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British Muslims call for tolerance

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LONDON (JTA) — A group of prominent British Muslims called on co-religionists to help prevent attacks on Jews.

The letter, signed by 20 leading imams, writers, academics and community activists, was timed to arrive at 1,200 mosques and Islamic centers around Britain on Friday, the Muslim day of worship.

Referring to a recent arson attack on a synagogue in North London, the letter says: "We unreservedly condemn attacks on innocent British citizens and the desecration of all places of worship."

The letter calls on fellow Muslims "to remain vigilant against attempts to bring our own faith and community into disrepute."  It concludes: "British Jews should not be held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government."

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the representative body of the Jewish community in Britain, issued a statement welcoming "the moral clarity, courage and vision shown by many leading British Muslims in their statement condemning the wave of anti-Semitic hatred that British Jews have suffered during the course of the terrible conflict in Gaza."

The Community Security Trust, the organization in charge of security of the Jewish community and its institutions, recorded more than 150 anti-Semitic incidents since Israel launched major operations on Dec. 27 aimed at quelling a massive intensification of rocket attacks on Israel’s south. At least 1,000 Palestinians, half of them civilians, have been killed, as have 13 Israelis.

Incidents include e-mails to Jewish organizations and graffiti on synagogues, Jewish homes, and even on a Tesco supermarket saying: "Kill the Jews." The supermarket chain, the biggest in the U.K., was established by a Jewish businessman.

There was also an arson attack on a Starbucks café in East London, which the police suspect is "racist crime".
 

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