'Beware of Jews' road sign was art project not hate crime, says creator

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A road sign which sparked outrage by appearing to warn of orthodox Jews was an art project, not a hate crime, its creator has claimed. 

Freelance photographer Franck Allais apologised for his creation, claiming the red, triangular sign depicting the silhouette of a Jewish man was not meant to cause offence.

The sign's installation just 200 yards away from a synagogue in a London borough with a huge Jewish population prompted a neighbourhood watch group to report it for anti-Semitism.

The artist's contrition was welcomed by one rabbi, but he was condemned for a "lack of sensitivity and knowledge".

Mr Allais said the piece - which was variously described by MPs as "despicable" and "disgusting" - was an art project about identity.

"It was a project about crossing the road," he told The Guardian.

"How everyone is different, everyone has an identity. There is not only one sign in the street. I put more signs up in the street, but only this one got noticed. I am sorry for any offence caused."

Placed in the heart of Stamford Hill, north London, it was spotted by a member of a Jewish neighbourhood group, Shomrim NE London, and reported to police on Tuesday.

Among the other art installations peppered around the area by the artist were one showing a woman with a shopping trolley and a man pushing a wheelchair and a cat, he told the paper.

Rabbi Herschel Gluck, president of Shomrim, told the Press Association: "I'm very pleased that he has apologised but rather surprised at his lack of sensitivity and knowledge that a sign like this could prove to be offensive.

"Especially with people who have been traumatised in recent history by similar signs barring them from professions and parks.

"You have to think about the people you are talking about and the type of message and type of meaning it would have for them."

Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary and MP for Hackney North, denounced the sign as "disgusting" and "unacceptable".

Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy said the incident amounted to "despicable, nasty behaviour that has absolutely no place in our community".