Israeli tourist forced to strip by German police
22 June 2005, TEL AVIV/MANNHEIM - An Israeli tourist accused German police on Tuesday of harassing him on the grounds of his nationality during a visit earlier this month to the German city of Mannheim.
22 June 2005
TEL AVIV/MANNHEIM - An Israeli tourist accused German police on Tuesday of harassing him on the grounds of his nationality during a visit earlier this month to the German city of Mannheim.
Orel Ben-Jair, 35, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that plainclothes police marched him to the front garden of a house and made him strip in front of residents and passers-by.
He said police officers tossed away his Jewish prayer book and forced him to stand naked for 40 minutes while they searched his backpack for drugs.
Ben-Jair, who was in Mannheim for a Rod Stewart concert, was on his way to a gay club with a German friend when six police stopped him metres from the venue entrance.
"I felt like it was the Holocaust," he told DPA. "They didn't search my friend, only me, because I'm a foreigner. The situation was so scary I started to cry out of fear."
Police in Mannheim confirmed on Tuesday searching Ben-Jair on June 10, but denied it took 40 minutes. They insisted they had been "very polite", kept the search to a minimum and did not throw away a prayer book. Both men had been searched.
Spokesman Martin Boll said police were outside the club to check for drugs. Strip searches were usual because drugs were commonly hidden in underclothing.
Police said they saw the two men, dressed in black leather, coming away from the club, and asked to see under their clothes. Officers differed about whether the Israeli had had to remove his underwear or whether police only peeked inside.
His companion was suspected of possession of a stimulating substance that is banned from sale in Germany. Four bottles of it were found in the Israeli's backpack, but they belonged to the German.
Police had laid no charges against the Israeli, and had dispensed with a passport check although they could not read the Hebrew on his identification.
The Israeli Yediot Ahronot daily quoted residents in the street where the search took place, who had witnessed it and confirmed the incident.
Subject: German news