Austria sentences synagogue vandal to three years in jail

New Synagogue in Graz
The man is accused of throwing stones at the synagogue in Graz. Photo: Willard, CC BY-SA 3.0/WikiCommons
A 32-year-old in Austria has been handed a three-year jail term for anti-Semitic attacks including vandalizing a synagogue in Graz.

The court in the southeastern city of Graz was placed in a care institution after finding the man, who committed the offences in August 2020, to be psychologically disturbed, a spokesperson told AFP. An expert psychiatrist told the court that the man was likely to commit further serious acts in the future.

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.

The president of the Jewish community in Graz, Elie Rosen, was unharmed after the 32-year-old tried to attack him with a broken chair leg on August 22nd, local media reported.

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, President Alexander Van der Bellen stressed anti-Semitism 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 anti-Semitic 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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