German police seek tips after arson attack on Oldenburg synagogue

Police have launched an online portal seeking tips about an arson attack on a synagogue in the northern German city of Oldenburg last Friday that prompted widespread outrage.

An incendiary device was thrown at the front door of the synagogue. Two janitors at a neighbouring cultural centre discovered the fire and extinguished it. No one was injured, but the perpetrators managed to escape and have not been identified.

Police investigating the crime announced the portal for tips on Thursday, and added that videos and photos could also be uploaded to the site.

A reward of €5,000 (about $5,400) has also been offered for tips that help solve the crime and identify the perpetrators.

The incident made headlines nationwide in Germany and prompted expressions of outrage and horror from leaders.

On Sunday, about 400 people took part in a rally in Oldenburg organized by a local alliance against anti-Semitism.

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Categories: anti-Semitism, arson, Attack, Germany, News, Oldenburg, Synagogue

Asylum seeker accused of murdering pensioner ‘motivated by conflict in Gaza’

An asylum seeker accused of murdering a pensioner in the street told police he was motivated by “the conflict in Gaza and to further his desire that Palestine would be free from the Zionists”, a court has heard.

Ahmed Alid, 45, denies murdering Terence Carney, 70, in Hartlepool town centre, as well as the attempted murder of his housemate Javed Nouri, and assaulting two female police officers who had interviewed him after his arrest.

Jonathan Sandiford KC, prosecuting, said Alid armed himself with two knives in the early hours of October 15 when he attacked Mr Nouri, who was asleep, at their shared house in Wharton Terrace, Hartlepool.

Alid shouted “Allahu Akbar”, meaning “God is great”, as he stabbed Mr Nouri in the chest, before he went on to fatally stab Mr Carney, who was out walking in the town centre, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Alid was already living in the accommodation when Mr Nouri moved there last summer and the defendant initially assumed he was a Muslim as he was keen on cleaning.

Mr Sandiford said Alid told him that “cleanliness was a sign of a good Muslim”.

But “matters changed” when Mr Nouri began to attend church and it became clear to Alid that he was a Christian convert “therefore, in the defendant’s eyes, an apostate who deserved to die”, Mr Sandiford added.

The housemates formed the view that Alid followed an extreme version of Islam, the court heard.

Mr Sandiford said: “The Crown does not have to prove a motive – a reason why the defendant attacked Mr Nouri and Mr Carney.

“However, there is evidence that the defendant had several motives for attacking Mr Nouri, one of which was also the reason why he killed Mr Carney.

“First, there was some friction between the defendant and Mr Nouri from living in the shared house.

“In particular, Mr Nouri had reported the defendant to the police and those responsible for managing their accommodation.

“Second, Mr Nouri was a Muslim who had converted to Christianity, and the defendant would therefore have regarded him as an apostate or ‘murtad’.

“Third, when the defendant was interviewed by the police, he initially thought that he had killed both Mr Nouri and Mr Carney.

“He said he had wanted to kill them because of the conflict in Gaza and to further his desire that Palestine would be free from the Zionists, by which he meant Israel.

“The defendant said he would have killed more people if he had been able to do so.”

The jury was told that Alid and Mr Nouri were asylum seekers living in Home Office-approved or provided accommodation, along with two others.

Housemates noticed Alid was paying particular attention to news coverage of the Hamas attacks on October 7 and had begun to carry a knife, the jury heard.

Alid allegedly began to threaten his housemates in the run-up to the attack on Mr Nouri, who was more powerfully-built than the defendant, and so not afraid of him.

Mr Nouri complained about Alid’s behaviour to housing managers and to friends at church.

Housing bosses warned Alid he would have to leave the house if his behaviour continued, Mr Sandiford said.

Friends at church advised Mr Nouri to tell police his concerns, which he did, but an officer advised him that no offence had been committed at that stage.

Those complaints provided Alid with more motive to attack Mr Nouri, the court heard, and at 5am on October 13 he broke into his housemate’s bedroom armed with two knives.

Alid stabbed him in the upper chest, near his heart, causing Mr Nouri to scream “What are you doing?”, the court heard.

He sustained further injuries to the mouth, thigh and calf while fighting him off, and one of the attacker’s knives snapped.

Mr Sandiford said: “Javed Nouri felt dizzy but managed to keep control of the defendant by using the headlock and holding his arm.

“He described the situation he was in as a nightmare, being attacked with a knife in the dark when he was sleepy, the defendant shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and, at first, no one from upstairs responding to his shouts for help.”

With the help of others, Mr Nouri eventually fought off Alid, who fled the property, the police arrived and he was taken to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough for treatment, the court was told.

The jury heard a 999 call made by a housemate in which shouts of “Allahu Akbar” could be heard.

The case continues.

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Categories: Ahmed Alid, Asylum seeker, Gaza, Israel, Javed Nouri, Palestine, Pensioner, Terence Carney

Iran clamps down again on headscarf offences

Iran is again taking tougher action against violations by women of strict Islamic dress codes, with the start on Saturday of a new drive on observance of the regulations in the Gulf state.

Controls were tightened nationwide and women disregarding the requirement to wear a headscarf in public remain guilty of a criminal offence, the Iranian news agency Tasnim reported on Telegram, citing a police commander.

Since the mass protests led by women in the autumn of 2022, Iran’s notorious morality police have been less strict, partly because they experienced more resistance from the population.

Instead, security agencies stepped up video surveillance of offences. For example, cars belonging to women who were repeatedly caught driving without a headscarf were impounded.

Authorities also tracked offences online, including photos of women without headscarves posted on Instagram. Shops and restaurants whose customers disregarded the dress code were ordered to close.

Since 2022, more and more Iranian women have been ignoring the dress code, while religious hardliners have tried to fight the growing defiance.

A new bill passed by parliament provides for draconian punishments but has not yet come into force.

In the coming weeks, a revised version is to be resubmitted to Iran’s so-called Guardian Council, an arch-conservative, 12-member supervisory body.

The mass protests were triggered by the death of the young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after her arrest by police because of an allegedly ill-fitting headscarf.

An expert United Nations commission concluded that physical violence after the arrest led to her death.

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Categories: Headscarf, Iran, Islamic dress code, Islamist, Muslim