More than 20 prominent leaders sign letter denouncing rise in attacks since start of Gaza op.
By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
More than 20 prominent British Muslim leaders have signed a letter denouncing the rise in anti-Semitic attacks resulting from Operation Cast Lead and calling on Muslims to help prevent attacks on Jews in the UK.
The Community Security Trust (CST) has reported a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent weeks, with more than 150 reported attacks on Jews, Jewish-owned property and even an arson attempt on a London synagogue.
"We are deeply saddened to hear about anti-Semitic assaults on British Jews, and a recent arson attack on a London synagogue. Although the perpetrators are yet unknown, we unreservedly condemn attacks on innocent British citizens and the desecration of all places of worship," the Muslim leaders wrote.
Signatories to the letter, which is being circulated to more than 1,200 mosques and Islamic centers around the UK, include internationally renowned imams, writers, academics and community activists. The signatories also number members of all major Islamic groupings including Sunnis, Shi'ites, Deobandis, Barelwis, Salafis and Sufis.
"The ongoing killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza by Israeli forces has angered us all. However, this does not, and cannot, justify attacks on our fellow citizens of Jewish faith and background here in Britain," the letter reads.
It goes on to say that British Jews should not be held responsible for Israel's actions: "Most Muslims are completely against such behavior. However, we call on all Muslims to continue to remain vigilant against attempts to bring our own faith and community into disrepute. British Jews should not be held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government."
"We warmly welcome this statement from prominent British Muslims condemning anti-Semitic attacks," said Mark Gardiner, CST's communications director. "There have been over 150 anti-Semitic incidents throughout the country in just over two weeks. This is a completely unprecedented figure, and whilst most of the incidents consist of graffiti, threatening e-mails or verbal abuse, it is still extremely disturbing, especially as we have seen extreme violence on anti-Israel demonstrations. In this context, the statement from Muslim leaders is not simply a question of public relations or interfaith, it is a case of their showing both moral and physical courage and leadership at a very difficult time."
"We are grateful for this straightforward, unqualified condemnation of anti-Semitic attacks," said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. "Our communities have at different times both been subject to intolerance and worse, and singling out groups on the basis of faith or ethnicity is wholly unacceptable and should be condemned."
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