A hotel where two employees have been suspended after a Jewish singer was reportedly told to hide his Star of David necklace in order to register as a guest faced protests last week, and reportedly hired a neo-Nazi security firm for protection.
In an Instagram video, musician Gil Ofarim looked shaken as he spoke of how other guests were being prioritised over him during the long line in the hotel. When he asked as to why, an employee of the Westin Leipzig hotel reportedly said that it was to “straighten the line” before allegedly adding that Mr Ofarim needed to “pack the star” if he wanted to register as a guest. A spokesperson for the hotel said that they were very concerned about the report and that they were taking the matter very seriously.
After news of the alleged incident spread online, a protest was quickly planned. During this time, it was reported that a Westin hotel manager said that two employees had been put on leave. It was also reported that whilst some people appeared happy at this result, others demanded the termination of the employees’ contacts.
The spontaneous protest lasted approximately an hour and fifteen minutes, and it was reported that at least 600 people turned up to demonstrate and listen to speeches.
Directors and employees from Pro GSL Security – the security firm allegedly hired by the hotel – are said to have affiliations with far-right and neo-Nazi movements. It was reported that in a now-deleted photo, the security firm posted a photo of two of its directors and three employees standing outside the hotel stating that the building had been “secured quickly!”.
One of the firm’s Directors, named Tobias B., was reportedly convicted in April after taking part in a violent rampage through Leipzig’s Connewitz neighborhood in August 2016 and was handed an eleven-month suspended sentence and a €2,500 fine. It was said that at least 250 neo-Nazi thugs smashed shop windows, demolished cars and set off an explosive device outside a kebab restaurant during the riot.
A second director known as Oliver R. was also in the photo, and it is understood that he was previously business partners with Ralph Marschner, a neo-Nazi with ties to far-right terrorists.
Andreas Hachmeister, the manager of the Westin Hotel, stated in a radio interview that Pro GSL was hired “at short notice” and that it was the first and last time that the firm would be hired.
It has been reported that Mr Ofarim is taking legal action against the hotel.
A spokesperson for Marriott International, the parent company of Westin Hotels, said that the company took “this matter extremely seriously” and pledged to “support the police investigation into this incident”.
“Marriott International is committed to welcoming all,” the spokesperson continued. “We condemn antisemitism in all its forms and any discrimination whether it be based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or abilities.” They added that Marriott was collaborating with “global advocacy organisations focused on combatting discrimination and hate” on diversity training for its employees.
Image credit: Facebook via The Algemeiner