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'Beware of Jews' sign in London denounced

  • Published at 09:10 pm March 15th, 2017
'Beware of Jews' sign in London denounced

A "Beware of Jews" street sign that appeared in Stamford Hill, a London area home to a large Orthodox Jewish community, has been branded as "disgusting" and "despicable" by local lawmakers.

A neighbourhood watch group said the red triangular warning sign, featuring a silhouetted image of a man in Orthodox Jewish clothing and hat, was attached to a lamppost near a synagogue.

"Disgusting. Unacceptable," British Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott wrote on Twitter.

"Despicable, nasty behaviour that has absolutely no place in our community," tweeted another Labour lawmaker from a nearby London area, David Lammy.

Municipal authority Hackney Council said on Wednesday it had not found the sign, which was one of a number of fake warnings in the area, and believed it had already been removed.

It surfaced as a wave of far-right political parties have been gaining support in election campaigns across Europe.

Dutch firebrand politician Geert Wilders hoped to gain ground with his anti-immigration stance on Wednesday in the first of three polls within the European Union this year where nationalist parties are riding a wave of support.

Stamford Hill is home to Europe's largest Haredi community of strictly Orthodox Jews, with an estimated 30,000 living in the area. It has been targeted by far-right supporters in the past and police figures show an increase of more than 60% in anti-Semitic incidents in London last year.

Last month, the Community Security Trust, which advises Britain's estimated 260,000 Jews on security matters, said it had recorded a record 1,309 incidents across the country in 2016, the highest number since it began collecting figures 33 years ago.

Artist apologises

A photographer and artist behind a red-triangle warning sign depicting the silhouette of an Orthodox Jewish man has apologised for causing offence.

Franck Allais, a freelance photographer, said the contentious sign was part of an artistic project, which includes depictions of a woman pulling a shopping trolley, a man pushing his wheelchair and a cat.

Allais said he intended the project to be a comment on identity and that the sign in Stamford Hill, one of the largest Hasidic communities in Europe, was not an antisemitic statement. He said he was left shaken by the offence he had caused.

He said: “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.”

Allais, who has done work for Guardian Weekend, the Saturday and Sunday Telegraph, FT Weekend magazine, the Independent on Sunday, Newsweek and Time Out, said he had created the signs based on real people he saw crossing the road in the areas where the signs were later hung and photographed.

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