German kebab shop targeted in terror attack saved after Jewish community fundraiser

Turkish-owned business rescued from bankruptcy after supporters step in with $35,000

08 October 2020, Saxony-Anhalt, Halle (Saale): Ismet Tekin stands in front of his Kiez-Döner in Halle/Saale during a demonstration of migrants. Under the motto "Now we are talking" one year after the right-wing terrorist attack on the synagogue and the kebab snack bar, the participants want to set an example, talk about their perspectives, experiences and dreams. Photo: Hendrik Schmidt/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Hendrik Schmidt/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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A kebab shop that was targeted in a far-right terrorist attack in 2019 has been saved from bankruptcy after Germany’s Jewish community intervened to keep it going during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kiez-Döner, located in the city of Halle, Saxony, was at risk of closure due to a drop in business caused by tough Covid restrictions. But after being given thousands of euros by Jewish donors it will be able to reopen its doors once again.

In 2019, Kiez-Döner made global headlines when two people were killed in a far-right terror attack on the city’s synagogue during Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

11 October 2019, Saxony-Anhalt, Halle (Saale): At a mast in front of the Kiez-Döner there are fan scarves of football clubs and a flag of the Halleschen FC attached, in front of it there are flowers and candles. One of the victims of the attack was a member of the HFC fan club. During attacks in the middle of Halle an der Saale in Saxony-Anhalt two people were shot dead on 09.10.2019. Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images)
A mast in front of the Kiez-Döner shop where one customer was shot dead. DPA.

After failing to gain access to the synagogue, the killer turned his attention to the Muslim-owned business, killing a 20-year-old customer who was inside and a 40-year-old woman nearby.

Stephan Balliet, 28, who expressed hatred of immigrants in an online manifesto, live streamed the attack on social media. He was sentenced to life in prison in December over the slayings and attempted murder of 66 other people.

Two Turkish-born brothers, Ismet and Rafin Tekin, took over the kebab outlet shortly after the attack. The city’s small Jewish community rallied in support of the shop, which later became a shrine for the two victims, Jana Lange and Kevin Schwarze.

MAGDEBURG, GERMANY - JULY 22: Defendant Stephan Balliet (R) and one of his lawyers, Thomas Rutkowski, (reflected in glass) attend the second day of his trial on charges of murder and other crimes at the Landgericht Magdeburg courthouse on July 22, 2020 in Magdeburg, Germany. Balliet attempted to attack the synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle on October 9, 2019, with the intent of killing Jews celebrating Yom Kippur inside. Unable to get through the heavy, outer door he instead killed at random a woman passing by and a man in a nearby kebab fast food restaurant. He was later injured in a shootout with police and apprehended as he tried to flee. Balliet video streamed his attack on the Internet, in which can be heard lamenting the shortcomings of his homemade weapons. His trial is scheduled to last into October. (Photo by Hayoung Jeon-Pool/Getty Images)
 Stephan Balliet attempted to attack a synagogue with the intent of killing Jews celebrating Yom Kippur inside. Getty.

Germany has been under lockdown since November, causing hardships for small business owners across the country, including Kiez-Döner. Jewish regulars were the first to find out about its precarious financial situation and stepped in to help.

The German Jewish Student Union raised just under €30,000 ($35,000) online, easily exceeding its €5,000 target in the space of a few months. A local Jewish business leader also reportedly stepped in to buy €1,000 ($1,200) of kebabs in advance, which could be redeemed when the shop reopened.

"We, as the Jewish Student Union Germany (JSUD), believe in a multicultural society in this country. We believe in a peaceful coexistence, regardless of religion, nationality or skin colour. We believe in solidarity," the students said, in a post on the GoFundMe platform.

Ismet Tekin, the restaurant's Turkish-born owner, called the fundraising efforts “amazing”.

"They did it out of solidarity, to show that we are together, that we can get through these times when we stand together", he told The Telegraph.

Mr Tekin, who has lived in Germany for over 13 years, hailed the links between the two communities, dismissing historical tensions.

“For me there are no tensions. Religion is a private thing. Everyone is entitled to his beliefs”, he said.