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Rabbi fears anti-Semitic attack on Spurs fans in Lyon could be repeated as far right rises in Europe

PUBLISHED: 15:12 26 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:00 26 February 2013

Damage at the Smoking Dog pub in Lyon,. Photo: Paul Hirst

Damage at the Smoking Dog pub in Lyon,. Photo: Paul Hirst

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Anti-Semitic attacks similar to the one on Spurs fans last week in Lyon could become more common as far-right groups continue to rise in Europe, a Rabbi has said.

A group of more than 100 Tottenham Hotspur supporters, including Ilford resident James Taylor, 22, were attacked while celebrating in a pub on the eve of the Europa League second round clash.

Three fans were hospitalised after a group of up to 50 masked thugs made Nazi salutes and threw chairs and projectiles at around 10.30pm on Wednesday.

It came three months after Tottenham fans were attacked in Rome as they prepared to face Lazio.

Rabbi Richard Jacobi, of Woodford Liberal Synagogue in Marlborough Road, South Woodford, fears the financial crisis in Europe is stoking old racial and religious tensions.

He said: “Tottenham Hotspur is identified as a Jewish club and using the word “Yids” excites controversy.

“But I think it’s become something entirely different to a racial identity for the fans.

“The issue is what reaction it draws from other people but it’s no different to someone saying they’re Jewish.”

Rabbi Jacobi said security authorities and UEFA should do more to guard against racism and anti-Semitism in football.

He added: “History tells us that when economic times are very bad and mainstream politicians don’t seem to have instant solutions, people look for what seems like one.

“In countries with a history of overt anti-Semitism, it’s a tack that people will take.

“We can’t look away from it.”

Police have arrested three men. The Rhone police prefect said one was a member of a far-right group and two were Lyon “hooligans”.

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