AN attack at a Jewish cemetery in Whitefield is being treated as a hate crime.
Officers from Greater Manchester Police blasted the perpetrators who desecrated Philips Park Cemetery as “scumbags” and a “complete disgrace to humanity” in a series of tweets.
Earlier reports had suggested the vandalism was a criminal act, which was based on the conclusion that copper was stolen from a bathroom on the cemetery grounds.
But the police soon labelled the incident as a hate crime.
The grave of former Manchester Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal was smashed, while the ohel entrance was also badly damaged.
Sinks were ripped out, two windows were broken and the CCTV was stolen.
Officers were called to the cemetery, in Old Hall Lane, shortly before 9pm on Saturday.
It is understood the attack happened sometime between midday on Friday and the early hours of Saturday.
Superintendent Paul Walker, of GMP’s Bury Division, said those involved stole the CCTV system in a “clear attempt to cover their tracks”.
He added: “We have launched an investigation and while the CCTV has been destroyed by the offenders, I can assure people that we have a team of dedicated officers working to piece together exactly what happened in an attempt to find those responsible.
“I understand that this incident will have caused distress to many members of our community and we are working alongside our partners to ensure that those affected are fully supported.
“Incidents of this nature will never be tolerated in our communities.”
Liverpool-based Mancunian Rabbi Shmuli Brown posted the images on Saturday night on Twitter, writing: “These cowards picking on the dead trashed the place.”
His tweet was retweeted more than 2,500 times, including by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
A tweet from GMP Prestwich stated: “I hope the scumbags who desecrated a graveyard in Whitefield are proud! You are a complete disgrace to humanity! This is not what the community of Whitefield are about or accept”.
Bury Council leader Rishi Shori said: “This was a deliberate act of desecration in a Jewish cemetery, clearly a crime driven by hatred.
“The people of Bury will be dismayed and horrified by this destruction, which is not a true reflection of our borough.
“The timing of this incident is all the more poignant, coming after Holocaust Memorial Day and Hate Crime Awareness Week, both times when our communities stood side by side in solidarity and friendship.”
A fundraising page, set up to help with the cost of the repairs, which is estimated to be around £30,000, has so far raised £12,000.
A substantial number of donations have come from non-Jewish people.
Marc Levy, the Jewish Leadership Council’s north-west external affairs manager, said: “This targeting and desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Whitefield has understandably caused deep distress in the local Jewish community.
“The police are rightly treating this appalling act of vandalism as a hate crime.”
To donate to help with the repairs, visit: gofundme.com/repair-whitefield-cemetery
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