Man arrested over swastika graffiti at synagogue

Arrest follows second incident in which CST staff outside Etz Chaim synagogue were allegedly subjected to antisemitic abuse


West Yorkshire Police have arrested a man in connection with antisemitic graffiti  daubed outside the Etz Chaim synagogue in Leeds.

Police confirmed on Monday they had detained the suspect male after a second incident took place outside the shul premises last Thursday when CST staff were allegedly subjected to antisemitic abuse.

Officers had first arrived at the synagogue in Harrogate Road, in the heart of the Jewish area of Alwoodley in north Leeds, last Wednesday morning after a swastika symbol with the word “kikes” was sprayed onto a sign of the front entrance of the shul on the main road.

In a statement police confirmed: "A man has been arrested in connection with antisemitic graffiti at the Etz Chaim Synagogue, in Harrogate Road, which was reported on Wednesday last week, and a further hate crime at the same premises on Thursday last week where antisemitic remarks were made to a member of security staff. 

"The man has been released under investigation and enquiries into both incidents are ongoing.”

Leeds North MP Fabian Hamilton and Susie Gordon of the Leeds Jewish Representative Council were among those to immediately condemn the attack on the shul.

It later emerged that a group of four local Muslim men had arrived with flowers in a gesture of solidarity with the local Jewish community after the incident.

The instigator of the gesture was 36-year-old Shahab Adris, who said he and his three collegues were “disgusted” by the graffiti  and wanted to show empathy with the Jewish community.

Mr Abbis, the Yorkshire and Humber regional manager of Mend, a not-for-profit company which hopes to reduce Islamophobia and increase engagement and development within British communities, revealed he was invited into the shul with his three friends by the rabbi.

He told The Independent: “We spent 40 minutes discussing religion and how we can work together to promote love and peace. Not the hatred shown by those who had left the graffiti.” 

Harry Brown, a member of the Etz Chaim community later praised the actions of the four men on Facebook, writing:” “I was truly humbled by [the] amazing gesture – the gift of flowers and your support. 

“This is what we want to see, and equally the Jewish community should reach out not only to Muslim faiths but to all other faiths.

“From an unpleasant episode came a wonderful outpouring of support which the whole community appreciates.” 

Etz Chaim’s  clergy team is headed by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shalom and Rikki Kupperman, and Rabbi Anthony Gilbert.

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