Occupy protester in Edinburgh arrested over menorah's destruction

Edinburgh's new menorah

Edinburgh's new menorah

A 25-year-old man connected to the Occupy Edinburgh movement has been charged with destroying Scotland's biggest chanuciah in an alleged antisemitic attack.

He appeared in court last week facing one charge of vandalism aggravated by hate, but was released by the Procurator Fiscal pending further police inquiries.

But members of Edinburgh's Jewish community have spoken in his defence, claiming they did not believe the destruction of the menorah was motivated by antisemitism.

Edward Green, Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation member, said he had been told the intention was to steal the aluminium pieces of the chanuciah and sell them for scrap. He said: "We have to be fair. If we felt this was genuinely antisemitic we would say so."

The original menorah - erected in the city's St Andrew's Square - was found destroyed on the first night of Chanucah. Its broken pieces were recovered close to tents set up in the square by the Occupy protesters.

Volunteers built a new 15ft chanuciah in time for the first candle lighting on December 20.

Rabbi Pinny Weinman of Edinburgh Chabad said: "After the attack, a group of people from Occupy approached me, offering me as an apology, a candelabra.

"They were very apologetic and told me how they had found and protected the pieces of the menorah. One of them told the police who had carried out the attack.

"It's a possibility that it was just for scrap metal - that's our gut feeling. To say it was a hate crime there has to be some proof."

Lothian and Border Police confirmed officers were continuing their investigations.

Last updated: 1:00pm, January 26 2012