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‘Outpouring of support’ after shul graffiti attack

    A police investigation has been launched into two antisemitic attacks on a Leeds synagogue.

    A swastika and the word “kikes” were sprayed in red paint on to a sign and pavement at the Etz Chaim shul at the heart of the city’s Jewish community.

    In a second incident, a man directed antisemitic abuse towards Community Security Trust staff outside the building in Alwoodley.

    A police spokesman confirmed that a man had been arrested regarding the second incident, but officers said he was not involved in the graffiti attack on Wednesday last week.

    Susie Gordon, Leeds Jewish Representative Council executive director, said: “The incident at Etz Chaim is obviously very upsetting but thankfully not a common occurrence.”

    Fabian Hamilton, Labour’s Leeds North East MP, said: “As a Jew, the vandalism at the Etz Chaim synagogue was particularly hurtful for me on a personal level, but to happen in my own constituency was even more of a disappointment.

    “It is important we treat antisemitism the same way we oppose all forms of hate, regardless of religion — and respond by promoting tolerance, love and unity. This was not only vandalism, but an antisemitic hate crime and an attack on an entire community.

    “Make no mistake, there is no place for this hate in Leeds North East — a constituency that prides itself on multiculturalism where people of all faiths and none work and live together peacefully.”

    In a statement, CST said it was working with the shul and police to investigate the incidents.

    “As you might expect, such vile graffiti in a prominent location in the heart of the Jewish community has caused widespread upset and concern,” the charity said.

    Four Muslim men from the local area later brought flowers to the shul in a gesture of solidarity with the Jewish community.

    The instigator of the gesture was 36-year-old Shahab Adris, who said he was “disgusted” by the graffiti and wanted to show empathy.

    The men spent 40 minutes talking to shul members and discussing ways to “work together to promote love and peace”.

    Harry Brown, an Etz Chaim member, later praised the actions of the four men, writing on Facebook: “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.”

    The West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “As a result of enquiries into the first incident, the man that was arrested is no longer being considered as a suspect for that offence, which we are continuing to investigate.

    “He remains under investigation regarding the second incident where comments were made.”

    The Etz Chaim Synagogue has not commented following the attack.

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