Fears of terrorism grip Italy as thousands of troops deployed across the country

A statement after a meeting of military and security officials said they would guard sensitive sites and targets until at least June.

February 18, 2015 09:14
1 minute read.

A view of Rome's ancient Colosseum. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Italy has deployed thousands of troops throughout the country due to security concerns following Saturday’s two shooting attacks in Copenhagen, one of which targeted a synagogue.

Italian media said about 500 soldiers would be deployed in Rome, where army troops already help guard diplomatic missions and residences, the capital’s synagogue, and Jewish schools. Last year a pig’s head was found placed outside of Rome’s Grand Synagogue.

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The new troops are expected to be deployed at tourist venues, such as archeological sites and monuments.

Saturday’s shooting of Danish- Israeli synagogue guard Dan Uzan rocked European Jews already reeling from last month’s shooting of four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris and a shooting at a Jewish school in Brussels last May. Four people were also killed in that attack. A Jewish cemetery in France was discovered desecrated earlier this week as well.

According to a recent report by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research, a third of Italian Jews perceived a rise in anti-Semitism in recent years.

“About one-third of respondents thought that hostility toward Jews in public places had increased in the past five years, and a similar proportion thought that there had been an increase in desecration of Jewish cemeteries, vandalism of Jewish buildings and institutions, and anti-Semitism in political life,” the report found.

Although one-third of the Italian Jews who responded had experienced anti-Semitic harassment within the year before they were polled, and one-fifth recalled suffering discrimination as Jews, 87 percent stated that they had never avoided Jewish events or sites out of fear for their safety.

However, 30% of respondents spoke of avoiding displaying overt symbols of Jewish affiliation such as kippot, mezuzot, and Stars of David.

Over 40% expressed concern over the possibility of verbal abuse or harassment, while 30% indicated that they were worried about those close to them suffering physical abuse as Jews.

European Jewish communities are getting used to a higher level of security in recent days, with troops also deployed in Belgium and France in response to the heightened risk of terrorism.

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