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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Synagogue attack 'barbaric'
Stephen Byers and Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks
Stephen Byers and Chief Rabbi Sacks view the damage
A racist attack on a London synagogue has been described as "barbaric" by Stephen Byers.

Visiting the Finsbury Park synagogue Mr Byers, secretary of state for the Department of Transport, Local Government and Regions, joined Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks to survey the damage left by vandals.

"I think that any right-thinking member of our country will condemn this," Mr Byers said.

Jewish leaders described the attack as one of the "worst incidents of anti-Semitism" in Britain in recent years.

Finsbury Park Synagogue
The clean-up operation has begun

Inside the synagogue a team of more than a dozen worshippers worked on repairing the damage caused at the weekend.

During the 15-minute visit, Mr Byers and other dignitaries, including shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin, were shown where vandals broke in and daubed a swastika on a lectern.

"It's clear that this attack was deliberately intended to inflame relationships in the local community," said Mr Letwin.

Rabbi Sacks said: "This is very distressing - it's been traumatic.

"Britain must reject racist politics and I'm confident it will."

The attack coincides with an increase in anti-Semitic incidents across Europe.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks
"This has brought back some terrible memories"
Washington Post Columnist Charles Krauthammer
"This doesn't arrive spontaneously"

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See also:

02 May 02 | England
United against anti-Semitism
01 May 02 | England
Damaged synagogue begins clean-up
10 Apr 02 | Europe
New attack on Paris synagogue
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