Arsonists firebomb Lugano synagogue

The fire gutted the synagogue's library Keystone

Arsonists have attacked a synagogue in Lugano, marking the first time in living memory that a Jewish house of worship in Switzerland has been set on fire.

This content was published on March 14, 2005

A fabric shop owned by a Jewish family in the southern Swiss city was also set alight. Police say both blazes are connected.

The president of Lugano’s Jewish community described the attacks as "anti-Semitic", but police declined to comment on a possible motive. No one was hurt in either incident.

The synagogue lost its entire library in the fire, which took hold after petrol bombs were reportedly hurled at the building.

Less than a kilometre away, the owners of the fabric shop saw their store go up in flames.

They said they did not receive any threats prior to the attack. Police revealed that there were signs of a break-in at both buildings.

No warning

Elio Bollag, the president of the Jewish community in Lugano, said he was appalled by the attack on the synagogue, which had come out of the blue.

"We are not only talking about an act that was clearly anti-Semitic – it was also stupid and gratuitous, and one which could not have been predicted," said Bollag.

Jewish leaders in Switzerland say it is the first time in living memory that a Swiss synagogue has been attacked in this way.

Journalist Hans Stutz, who maintains records on racist and anti-Semitic incidents in Switzerland, said recent attacks on Swiss synagogues had been restricted to anti-Semitic graffiti daubed on walls.

In June 2001 a rabbi was stabbed to death in Zurich. His killer has never been caught.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

A synagogue and a fabric shop in Lugano were set on fire by arsonists on Sunday night. Police suspect foul play.

The attack on the synagogue marks the first time in recent years that such a building was set on fire in Switzerland.

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