On October 9th, 2019, an armed assailant attacked a synagogue in Halle and the nearby kebab shop Kiez-Döner, murdering two people and injuring several others. On July 21st, the trial against him began in the city of Magdeburg.
Adiraxmaan Aftax Ibrahim has lived and worked in Halle for five years. He came to Germany as a refugee. On the day of the attack, he had just alighted from the tram on Halle’s Magdeburger Straße, and was about to cross the street when the attacker hit him at high speed in a car.
The following conversation is part of an interview series with some of the co-plaintiffs in the trial. Rachel Spicker spoke with them about their experience of the attack, why they have decided to become a co-plaintiff, and what they expect from the trial.
Belltower.News: What was your experience of the attack?
Adiraxmaan Aftax Ibrahim: I was on my way to work and took the tram number 5 to “Magdebuger Straße”. When I got off the tram, I crossed the street. It all happened so fast. A friend shouted that I should watch out and get out of the way. I looked to the side and saw a car coming towards me at high speed, with the driver deliberately steering towards me. The attacker was on the wrong side of the road, so I wouldn’t have looked in that direction otherwise. As I later noticed, he probably wanted to avoid a police patrol car, which was standing on the other lane further up the road. I managed to jump to the side, but I couldn’t avoid the car completely, so I was hit from the side. I fell on my right knee, suffered severe bruising and had injuries on my left hand. Immediately, I was aware that this attack had a racist motive. I just thought that it’s a normal racist incident, which just happens quite often in the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the city of Halle. He deliberately aimed at me as a black person, as there were other white people around who he could have hit. After a short time, an ambulance came and took me to the hospital. When I got there, I was puzzled at all the doctors and nurses. I thought that something must have happened. One of the doctors then told me that the man who ran me over had committed a terrorist attack and that I was lucky to be alive. Only then did I realise that this incident was part of a much larger attack.
How do you feel about the attack today?
I’m now feeling a lot better, but I don’t like to think back to this event. Following the attack, I was very insecure. I didn’t know what to make of the fact that this man had committed a terrorist attack. I was often afraid and it had a psychological impact on me. Even today, I’m still sometimes afraid of speeding cars or when I cross the street on foot and cars approach. Just a few days ago, I crossed the street with a friend when our light was green and a left-turning car honked and yelled at us, which we fortunately didn’t understand. Our light was green but the car driver was angry and looked at us in such a hateful way. Experiences like this after the attack are very stressful and remind me of what happened. Otherwise, I’m fine physically, only sometimes I still have pain in my knee when I play football.
Why did you decide to become a co-plaintiff?
The attack had an antisemitic and racist motive. We know from what the attacker had uploaded and has said during interrogations so far that he sees Jews and Muslims, but also black people, as his enemies. That means that we have to see and understand his actions within this context. I want the court and the public to comprehend that I was the victim of a racist attack. We have to clarify this publicly – and there must be consequences. My friends and I have had so many experiences of racism in Germany; racist attacks are on the rise. Here in Saxony-Anhalt, and also in Halle, there are many people who are racist and hostile to refugees. They look at us strangely, insult us or attack us. We are viewed as “Others”. For us, this is everyday life. The Halle attacker hit me for a specific reason and I want it to be recognised as a racist attack.
What do you expect from the trial?
I have never been in court or witnessed a trial, so I can’t draw on any past experience and have no idea what to expect. I can only say for myself that I will tell the truth and report how this day felt for me. I hope that there will be a fair trial and that the perpetrator will receive a just punishment. And I hope that we can then draw a line under this experience.
Further information on the trial: Together with NSU-Watch, the VBRG is documenting the trial in German, English and Russian. On the blog halle-prozess-report.de, you can find information, reports and perspectives on the trial from co-plaintiffs and their lawyers, with support from activists and supporters.
At the beginning of the trial, a group of co-plaintiffs published a joint declaration in which they have called on media representatives not to mention the attacker’s name to deny him a platform. We have respected this wish in this interview.