Jews advised to keep faith symbols hidden

A Jewish faith organisation has received 37 reports of possible anti-Semitic harassment so far this year

December 13th, 2012 3:18 pm| by admin
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Jews in Denmark are advised to avoid wearing the Star of David or the religious headpiece, the kippah, in public according to advice given out by the Israeli Embassy and Jewish faith groups.

Israel’s ambassador, Arthur Avon, speaking to Jyllands-Posten newspaper for their report on anti-semitism, said that wearing these symbols in public increased the risk of harassment.

“We advise Israelis who travel here and want to go to the synagogue that they should only put their kippah on once they are inside,” Avon told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “They shouldn’t wear them on the street, even in areas that are considered safe.”

Avon and the Jewish faith group, Mosaisk Troessamfund, also advise Jews not to visibly wear the Star of David in public.

The Mosaisk Troessamfund has been informed of 37 cases of possible anti-Semitism this year, including an incident in November in which an elderly Israeli man had a necklace bearing a Star of David ripped from his neck while he was eating at a shawarma restaurant.

This incident took place in Nørrebro, a district of Copenhagen that has a large Middle-Eastern and Arab population, which according to the victims accounted for the majority of the physical and verbal attacks.

But Imran Shah, a spokesperson for the Muslim faith group Islamisk Trossamfund, denied that there was widespread anti-Jewish sentiment within Denmark’s Muslim population.

“Some of our rituals are almost identical, such as the slaughter of animals and other religious rituals such as circumcision,” Shah told Jyllands-Posten.

Despite this, both the police and the City Council have urged Jews to be particularly cautious in Nørrebro. In September, the council advised Jewish participants of an international food fair that was being held in Nørrebro not to bring Israeli flags as a safety precaution.

While Copenhagen's deputy mayor for employment and integration, Anna Mee Allerslev (Radikale), faced accusations of discrimination over the flag saga, police have also suggested that Jews need to take precautions while in Nørrebro.

“In areas where it is known that there is conflict and a risk of confrontation and harassment, it’s best to stay away,” police commissioner Lars-Christian Borg told Jyllands-Posten. “It’s sad to have to say, but it is some of the advice we give.”

While Allerslev argued that the advice to not bring flags was given to protect public safety, she acknowledged that it was disappointing that Jews in Denmark are harassed because of their faith.

“I don’t think we have given sufficient attention to anti-Semitism. The 37 cases reported this year is far too many,” Allerslev told Jyllands-Posten. “Minorities should never have to shoulder the burden of harassment alone.”

Politicians from across the political spectrum have expressed sadness and disappointment following the release of yesterday’s report by Jyllands-Posten about the problems faced by Jews in Denmark.

City councillor Lars Aslan Rasmussen (Socialdemokrater) said that it was “grotesque” and that more needed to be done to tackle anti-Semitism.

“We often see racism as an issue of the majority against a minority. But we need to direct our efforts tackling anti-Semitism toward the Muslim communities,” Aslan told Jyllands-Posten.

Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, the spokesperson for the far-left party Enhedslisten, framed the problems facing Jews in terms of a larger problem: the persecution of minorities in Denmark

”It’s completely unacceptable that Jews in Denmark feel the need to hide their religion,” Schmidt-Nielsen wrote on Facebook. “It’s not okay that Jews have to hide their kippahs, that homosexuals can’t hold hands, or that women wearing headscarves are spat at. Attacks against the Palestinian population by the Israeli government are no justification for ant-Semitism.”

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