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‘Beware of Jews’ road sign was part of project, artist reveals

Franck Allais said he intended his work to be part of a project on identity, and that the sign was not an antisemitic statement.

    An artist has said he was behind a road sign apparently mimicking Charedi Jews and confirmed that the project was not intended to cause offence.

    Franck Allais, who works as a freelance photographer, said he intended his work to be part of a project on identity, and that the sign was not an antisemitic statement.

    Mr Allais said he was upset his work had caused offence to people in the community.

    Police were investigating after the sign, showing an image of a Jewish man in traditional dress, seemed to warn about the presence of Jews in Stamford Hill, north London.

    The sign was fixed to a lamppost near a synagogue in Clapton Common. It appeared along with another image in the area which showed a woman pulling a shopping trolley, a man pushing his wheelchair and a cat.

    The image of the Jewish figure initially sparked confusion over whether it was intended as an antisemitic slur.

    But Mr Allais told the Guardian: “It was a project about crossing the road … how everyone is different, everyone has an identity.

    “There is not only one sign in the street. I put more signs up in the street, but only this one got noticed. I am sorry for any offence caused.”

    Neighbourhood watch group Shomrim had reported the sign to police and to Hackney Council on Monday.

    Barry Bard, supervisor at Stamford Hill Shomrim, said: “The sign has caused a lot of concern amongst local Jewish residents, especially as it is in such close proximity to a synagogue.”

    Local MPs including Diane Abbott and David Lammy condemned the sign, calling it "disgusting", "unacceptable" and "despicable".

    But local residents questioned its intent, after highlighting the appearance of similar images in the area in recent days.

    Jewish residents also suggested the Jewish sign could have been intended as a Purim joke which went wrong.

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