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After hate speech charges, Jerusalem soccer club set on fire

(JTA) — Arsonists set fire to the trophy room of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team after the indictment of four fans for anti-Muslim hate speech.

Assaf Evers, a fire department spokesman, was quoted by Ynet as saying that the fire was set deliberately early Friday morning.

No one was hurt in the fire, but the trophy room and the office of property caretaker Meir Harush were heavily damaged.

“The history of Beitar has gone up in flames,” Harush told the news site NRG.

The attack followed the indictments of four Beitar Jerusalem fans suspected of incitement against Arabs and Muslims. 

On Jan. 26, the indictment said, the four men, all in their 20s, called “death to the Arabs” while watching a game from the bleachers. One of them also was charged with shouting “Burn their village.”

The alleged hate speech may have been directed at Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev, two Muslim Chechen players who recently joined the Jerusalem team. Beitar is the name of a Zionist youth movement. 

On Thursday, 20 representatives of the Beitar World Zionist youth movement presented Sadayev and Kadiyev with flowers to show their appreciation for joining the team.

Referring to the racist chants, Itzik Cornfein, the soccer club’s chairman, said Thursday, “We want to see a different, changed Beitar.”

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