Man charged in arson attempt on 250-year-old synagogue in England


(JTA) — A 51-year-old man was charged with arson after allegedly attempting to burn down the 18th-century Exeter Synagogue in England.

The synagogue in Exeter, an ancient city in southwest England, is the third oldest in the country. It was dedicated in 1764.

Tristan Morgan of Exeter reportedly was caught on surveillance cameras pouring a fire accelerant into the synagogue building and trying to light it.  There was only slight damage to the building.

Morgan was charged with arson and the intent of endangering life on Monday in the Exeter Magistrates Court.

Meanwhile, the president of the Exeter Synagogue was among those who signed on to an interfaith statement issued Tuesday calling for mutual respect, unity and tolerance. Other signers included the Bishop of Exeter, the Exeter Mosque, the City Council, and the Devon and Cornwall Police.

“We would like to thank the members of the public who helped us on Saturday night, the Police and Fire Service for their amazing response, and to the wider faith community for their excellent support,” Exeter Synagogue President Richard Halsey told local media. “We live in a wonderful city that has demonstrated tolerance and support for each other at times of need.”

The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Rev. Robert Atwell, said: “Tolerance and mutual respect are hallmarks of a civilized society, and I would implore everybody, regardless of their religion, to condemn any action that seeks to intimidate or harm others. Everybody should be free to practise their religion, and I ask Christians to stand in solidarity alongside our Jewish neighbors and people of all faiths.”

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