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COVID-19 has led to re-kindling of antisemitism across Europe, says rights agency

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By Euronews & AFP
People gather in front of the "Westin Hotel" in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021 to show solidarity with the musician Gil Ofarim.
People gather in front of the "Westin Hotel" in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021 to show solidarity with the musician Gil Ofarim.   -   Copyright  Dirk Knofe/(c) Copyright 2021, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten

COVID-19 has led to a "re-kindling" of antisemitism across Europe as conspiracy theories circulate online that blame Jews for the pandemic, a European rights watchdog warned on Tuesday.

The European Agency for Fundamental Rights, which collates data from civil society groups across the continent, warned that Germany and France had seen the biggest increases. Germany recorded 2,351 antisemitic 'incidents' last year, it revealed, and France 339.

It warned that in other countries a lack of data could be masking increases. In Poland and Hungary, for example, data is not collected and Spain recorded just three incidents, an unlikely tally given increases elsewhere.

"Anti-Semitism is a serious problem, but, without data, we do not know how serious it is," the agency said in a statement, calling on European countries to "step up their efforts."

"We will thus be able to better fight against hatred and prejudice."

The EU announced its first strategy to tackle antisemitism and online hatred in October.

The European Commission said the measures were introduced given the "persistence and a significant increase of anti-Semitic incidents".

At the time, EAFR said 90 percent of Jews felt that antisemitism has increased in their country and was a serious problem and that one in three people have considered emigrating.