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Last Updated: Friday, 20 February, 2004, 05:32 GMT
Anti-Semitic attacks rise in UK
File photo of desecration at a London synagogue
Synagogues in London have been defiled in the past
The number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Britain last year rose by 7% compared with 2002, figures show.

A total of 375 acts aimed at the Jewish community or individuals were reported to the Community Security Trust (CST).

The charity, which advises and represents the Jewish community on anti-Semitism, blamed the Iraq war and tensions in the Middle East.

The number of anti-Semitic assaults in 2003 rose 15% to 54, according to the CST.

We would also say that incidents were high last year because of the Iraq war
CST spokesperson

Incidents involving damage and desecration of Jewish property went up by 31% to 72.

These reports resulted in the second highest annual total number of such incidents since records began in 1984 - the highest total recorded was 405 in 2000.

The charity said the number of incidents fluctuated in response to events in the Middle East, as they had done in previous years.

The beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003 was a prompt - 48 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded compared with 26 incidents in the same month in 2002.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "This increase in anti-Semitic incidents is very concerning.

"We continue to see incidents stimulated by events in the Middle East, and this has been highlighted by the number of anti-Semitic incidents that showed specific anti-Zionist motivation.

"We would also say that incidents were high last year because of the Iraq war. A lot of people said the war was being fought on behalf of Zionists."

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