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Plight of Syrian Jewry

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A British journalist who has recently returned from Damascus says that he was arrested there when he tried to interview a rabbi on the plight of Syrian Jewry. Kevin Murphy, of the London Evening News, was arrested 10 minutes after entering the Damascus home of Rabbi Ibrahim Hamra and taken to a police station. The young rabbi, who had been due to attend synagogue prayers, arrived there at the police station afterwards. Later, the interview was permitted in the presence of the chief of police, his deputy and an interpreter.

“The supervised answers painted a pleasant picture of Jewish life in Syria,” Murphy said. This contrasted with his own conclusion that the life of Syrian Jews was harsh. “Jews are closely watched by a network of informers and are not allowed to receive foreign visitors freely.”

Another Damascus Jew had told him: “The Jews would like to leave Syria but they are not allowed to emigrate.” If they want to visit another country they have to give the Syrian government a 3215 Pounds Sterling bond to ensure their return.” A third Jew had suggested that illegal emigration by any of the Jews would prompt a fierce reaction from the government against those left behind, Murphy adds. Commenting on the report, Adnan Omran, the Syrian Ambassador in London, said: “Jews in Syria enjoy the same civil rights as the Arabs.”

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