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29 Oct, 2023 19:59

Planned Jewish cultural center set on fire in Muslim Russian republic

The unfinished structure was also vandalized with an anti-Semitic slogan
Planned Jewish cultural center set on fire in Muslim Russian republic

An under-construction Jewish cultural center has come under apparent attack in the city of Nalchik, the capital of Russia’s Kabardino-Balkaria Republic. Over 70% of the region’s around 900,000 inhabitants are Muslim. 

The unfinished building was set ablaze on Sunday, with “Death to the Yahudi” (an Arabic term for Jews) written in Russian with construction foam on its side, footage circulating online shows. Local emergency services said the fire affected “construction rubbish” at the site and was quickly put out with no significant material damage or injuries caused.

The suspected attack might have been motivated by “extremism,” with law enforcement reportedly examining the situation to determine whether a criminal investigation is required. 

“Unknown individuals set fire to several car tires and wrote an extremist slogan on one of the walls at the construction site of the Jewish cultural center in Nalchik. The fire was quickly extinguished, no one was injured,” a law enforcement source told RIA Novosti.

The attack on the Jewish center appears to be linked to the ongoing escalation in the Middle East, where a large-scale conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas has been raging since October 7. The hostilities started with a surprise attack launched by the militant group on southern Israel, which elicited an Israeli retaliation with heavy artillery and aerial bombardment of Gaza. 

The conflict has prompted mass pro-Palestinian – as well as pro-Israeli – demonstrations worldwide. In multiple countries, various Jewish and Israel-related sites, including diplomatic missions, have been subjected to attack by pro-Palestinian crowds.

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