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Jewish and Muslim leaders focus on keeping Redbridge peaceful in wake of Gaza conflict

11:35 20 August 2014

Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin

Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin

Archant

Jewish and Muslim faith leaders have said they are working hard to keep the peace in the wake of the Gaza conflict.

L-R John Clifton and Mohammed Asif in front of the new Salvation Army cookerL-R John Clifton and Mohammed Asif in front of the new Salvation Army cooker

Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, executive director of the Chabad Lubavitch centre in Gants Hill, and Mohammed Asif, chairman of the Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations, said both Jewish and Islamic communities were focused on calming tensions.

Their comments come in the wake of a sharp rise in anti-semitic incidents in London.

Met Police figures show there have been 110 anti-semitic offences reported across the city since April, including nine in Redbridge, compared with 47 city-wide and five in the borough for the same period last year.

Mr Sufrin said he was aware of “a few” incidents in the Redbridge area in recent weeks.

“Whenever there are issues in the Middle East it spills over in to the community,” he said.

“We are very fortunate in Redbridge. We seem to be a very peaceful community.

“It has been generally quiet although people have great concerns, they are frightened.”

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Anti-semitism watchdog the Community Security Trust (CST) said it had recorded 240 anti-semitic incidents across the UK in July compared with 304 for the previous six months.

“We work very hard with community leaders to keep respectful of each other,” added Mr Sufrin.

“There is more that unites us than divides us.”

Mr Asif said members of both the Muslim and Jewish communities in Redbridge were well-informed about the complex situation in Gaza.

“There has been nothing in Redbridge other than support for people that have been injured – there’s been no other rhetoric, “ he said.

But he warned tensions could arise in the next few weeks when pictures showing the aftermath of the conflict are broadcast on television.

“It’s not just going to peter away – the images of the rubble, no infrastructure, that’s going to be quite tough,” he added.

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