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Synagogue attacks treated as hate crimes

Police are treating an attack on Belfast synagogue on Somerton Road, where windows were smashed, as a religious hate crime. Picture by Cliff Donaldson 
Staff Reporter

TWO attacks on a synagogue in north Belfast are being treated by police as religious hate crimes.

A window was smashed at the place of worship on Somerton Road some time between Friday evening and Saturday morning.

The window was replaced but was smashed again at some point on Saturday afternoon or evening.

Rabbi David Singer said the Jewish community was shocked by the "very disturbing" attack. "I think across the community, first of all, it's very sad that it happened," he told the BBC.

"I would imagine that there's a certain amount of anger that it could happen. "Certainly, it's very sad and very disturbing that Belfast would show its face like this."

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly condemned the attacks. "There can be no place for attacks on any place of worship, regardless of the religion or denomination," he said.

"The local Jewish community makes a valuable contribution to our society and there is no justification for hate crimes."

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said the attack "should be condemned by all". "The Jewish community have been valuable members of our society for many years.

"We offered refuge during the Second World War to many fleeing the Holocaust and it is abhorrent that the synagogue has been the target of this hate crime," the Strangford MLA said.

DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds described it as a "disgraceful and despicable action".

"Those who have such hatred in their hearts to carry out this attack must be condemned," he said.

"The Jewish community are a long established part of Belfast and have a rich history in the city.

"I trust the police will be able to apprehend those responsible for this latest act of hatred."

Police appealed for anyone with information about the attack to come forward.

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