Sunday, December 17, 2006

LONDON — Jewish people are four times more likely to be attacked in Britain because of their religion than Muslims, according to figures compiled by the police.

One in 400 Jews, compared with one in 1,700 Muslims, are likely to be victims of faith-related hate attacks every year. The figure is based on data collected over three months in police areas accounting for half the Muslim and Jewish populations of England and Wales. The crimes range from assault and verbal abuse to criminal damage at places of worship.

Police forces started recording the religion of faith-related hate-crime victims only this year. They did so on the instruction of the Association of Chief Police Officers, which wanted a clear picture of community tensions around the country, following reports of Muslims being attacked after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the July 7 London bombings last year.

However, the first findings, for the July-September period, obtained by the Sunday Telegraph under freedom of information legislation, show that it is Jews who are much more likely to be targeted because of their religion.

In London and Manchester, where Muslims outnumber Jews by four to one, anti-Semitic offenses exceeded anti-Muslim offenses. The figures do not record the faith of the offenders.

The figures also suggest that many faith-related hate crimes remain unsolved, contrary to the picture painted by the government prosecutors’ office. The Crown Prosecution Service, in a report this month, said that only 43 persons were charged with “religiously aggravated” offenses last year, and concluded that the large rise expected after the July 7 bombings had not materialized.

Police figures suggest, however, that hundreds of faith-related hate crimes are being committed, with very few ever reaching court.

The prosecutors’ report revealed that not a single person accused of an anti-Semitic crime had been prosecuted on a charge of religiously aggravated offense.

A report by members of Parliament in September said British Jews were more vulnerable to attack and abuse now than for a generation.

Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader, who was part of the parliamentary inquiry, said it was “perverse” that not all police forces recorded anti-Semitic incidents and said that some forces “verge on the complacent.”

Rabbi Alex Chapper, 33, was the victim of a faith-related hate crime in July 2005.

He was returning from a synagogue in Ilford, East London, with three Jewish friends after conducting a service. Seven Asian teenagers followed them down the road shouting “Yehudi,” which means Jew in Arabic and Urdu. One of them shouted, “We are Pakistani, you are Jewish. We are going to kill you,” before punching Mr. Chapper in the face and hitting one of his friends over the head with a bottle.

The youths ran off when someone threatened to call the police. Mr. Chapper and his friends identified the youths to the police, but they were never prosecuted.

“They just did not seem interested. I feel very let down,” he said.

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