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Religion

New report finds anti-Semitism 'widespread' throughout EU

Anti-Semitism is "widespread" throughout the European Union, says the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). One fifth of Jewish respondents in the organization's survey said they'd experienced harassment in the past year.

The EU has taken steps to curb anti-Semitism but "the phenomenon is still widespread," the FRA said on Friday.

"Anti-Semitism is a disturbing example of how prejudice can persist through the centuries, and it has no place in our society today," said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. "While many EU governments have made great efforts to combat anti-Semitism, more targeted measures are needed."

Internet the biggest platform

The agency said that Internet was the biggest platform for spreading the hateful phenomenon. In an online survey of more than 5,800 Jewish people, three-quarters said they had experienced anti-Semitism on websites or social media.

"It is particularly distressing to see that the Internet, which should be a tool for communication and dialogue, is being used as an instrument of anti-Semitic harassment," said Kjaerum.

The FRA's survey was conducted in the eight EU states where 90% of the bloc's Jewish population is estimated to live: Belgium, Britain, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and Sweden.

Anti-Semitic harassment unreported

Approximately one in five people asked in the report said they had experienced an anti-Semitic incident involving verbal insult, harassment or a physical attack over the past month. Some 2 percent had been victims of a physical attack. More than three-quarters of these attacks go unreported to the police or any other organization.

Some 42 percent of those polled said they had experienced verbal abuse at demonstrations, and 14 percent at sporting events.

Two-thirds of respondents said they considered anti-Semitism to be a major problem in their country, and 76 percent said it had gotten worse over the past five years.

Among the countries surveyed, anti-Semitism was considered the fourth most-pressing issue politically or socially, behind unemployment, the economy and government corruption.

Berlin to host conference

The FRA's report comes ahead of the Conference of European Rabbis, to be held from Sunday to Tuesday in Berlin. The event will mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (also known as Night of Broken Glass) – a nationwide pogrom during which the Nazis destroyed synagogues, Jewish businesses, apartments and cemeteries across Germany.

The president of the conference, Pinchas Goldschmidt, told the Friday edition of the Berliner Zeitung newspaper that while Germany was the only European country with a growing Jewish community, it still has issues with anti-Semitism.

"To this day synagogues, community centers or schools have to be put under police protection," he said.

dr/slk (dpa, KNA, epd)