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Austria jails Syrian for vandalizing synagogue, threatening Jewish leader

Man, who court rules is psychologically disturbed, given 3-year prison term over antisemitic attacks in city of Graz

The defaced façade of the synagogue of Graz, Austria, on August 19, 2020. (Christian Jauschowetz via JTA)
The defaced façade of the synagogue of Graz, Austria, on August 19, 2020. (Christian Jauschowetz via JTA)

VIENNA — An Austrian court on Thursday handed a 32-year-old Syrian a three-year jail term for vandalizing a synagogue and other antisemitic attacks.

The court in the southeastern city of Graz placed him in a care institution after finding the man, who committed the offenses in August 2020, to be psychologically disturbed, a spokesperson told AFP.

He was arrested after he threw stones and scrawled pro-Palestinian slogans on the town synagogue before threatening the head of the local Jewish community, and also damaged a local facility used by an LGBT group.

In court, the man said he regretted actions that the prosecutor said were motivated by “hatred of Jews, homosexuals and prostitutes,” the APA news agency reported.

At the time of the arrest, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen stressed antisemitism had no place in a country whose 192,000-strong pre-war Jewish population was decimated during the Holocaust under Nazi rule.

The country registered 585 antisemitic acts last year alone, according to Vienna’s Jewish IKG community association.

Graz’s synagogue was notably destroyed in the 1938 anti-Jewish Kristallnacht — or the Night of Broken Glass — pogrom. A new one was built in 2000.

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