Anti-Semitism or art? A London photographer was arrested for hanging a street sign perceived by local Jews as anti-Semitic.
A triangle sign featuring a silhouette of an Orthodox Jewish man with a red border, similar to traffic signs, was spotted near a synagogue in Stamford Hill, London, on Tuesday.
The Jewish community of Stamford Hill is one of the largest in Europe.
Shomrim, a local volunteer-based watch organization, reported the incident to police, which launched an investigation into the incident.
Franck Allais, a freelance photographer, was arrested for hanging the sign. He claimed the contentious sign was part of an artistic project, a “comment on identity,” and that he had no anti-Semitic intentions.
“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 offense caused,” he said, according to The Guardian.
Several British politicians condemned the incident.
Labour MP David Lammy, former Higher Education and Skills Minister, tweeted, “Despicable, nasty behaviour that has absolutely no place in our community,” and Labour MP Diane Abbott tweeted, “Disgusting. Unacceptable.”
Shomrim reported that the incident sparked “alarm and distress to local people.”
Barry Bard, Shomrim’s operational supervisor in Stamford Hill, said that the Jews of that community are “very sadly” used to instances of anti-Semitic hate crimes.
Some of Allais’ other signs have since been found.
London’s Hackney Council is expected to remove the Stamford Hill sign on Wednesday.
The UK’s Jewish community experienced a surge in anti-Semitic attacks in the past year. A report published by the Community Security Trust (CST) on anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in 2016 shows an alarming record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents.
In their report published in February, CST recorded 1,309 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide during 2016, a 36% increase from the 960 incidents recorded in 2015.
Previously, the highest annual total of anti-Semitic incidents recorded by CST was 1,182, in 2014. CST has been recording anti-Jewish incidents since 1984.
“Anti-Semitism is a deplorable form of hatred that has absolutely no place in a tolerant, open and diverse Britain that works for everyone,” said Home Secretary Amber Rudd. “It is vital we ensure the safety and security of our Jewish community. “
The government recently allocated £13.4 million (approximately 16.5 $US) to protect Jewish sites and has worked to improve police recording of religious hate crimes.
By: World Israel News Staff