Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion on an anti-Semitic assault in Manchester which left one boy with a serious head injury. Four Jewish males were attacked by a group of three men as they waited at the Bowker Vale Metrolink stop in the Crumpsall area of north Manchester on 5 September. As a result of the attack, one 17-year-old was placed into a drug-induced coma after being left with a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.
The attack happened just before the release of figures revealed hate crimes against London's Jewish community increased by 93.4% over the past 12 months. Separate figures released in July also said the number of anti-Semitic attacks recorded in the UK as a whole has risen by more than 50% compared to last year.
As part of the investigation into the attack, which police are treating as an anti-Semitic hate crime, two 17-year-old boys from addresses in Whitefield and Derbyshire, were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and violent disorder. The suspects have been taken into custody for questioning. Officers from Greater Manchester Police are still appealing for witnesses to come forward to help with their enquiries.
Detective Inspector Liam Boden of Greater Manchester Police's North Manchester Division said "We have had a team of officers working closely with our partners to recover and examine evidence since the offence took place, which has revealed a sustained and unprovoked attack on the victims who were waiting for a tram on the opposite platform.
"There are two distinct scenes, as we believe the victims were chased from the platform to Middleton Road and that is where the most serious assault took place. We would therefore like to ask anyone who may have been travelling along Middleton Road at around 11.25pm on Saturday, or anyone who believes they may have witnessed the attack, to come forward.
"Similarly, we believe the offenders then alighted the Metrolink towards Bury at around 11.35pm, travelling between Bowker Vale and Radcliffe. We know there were people on this tram and that they would have noticed these offenders travelling between carriages, as it would have been obvious that at least one of them had been involved in an assault.
"I know this crime has caused upset and anxiety in the Jewish community, particularly as this has happened just prior to the start of the Jewish High Holy Days, and I want to offer reassurance that hate crime will not be tolerated and we will do everything we can to stop it."
Amanda Bomsztyk, Northern Regional Director of the Community Security Trust (CST), said: "We would like to thank Greater Manchester Police for its prompt action in this particularly serious and worrying incident. There is far too much anti-Semitic abuse and violence, and we hope these arrests will send a strong message, providing some reassurance to the Jewish community."
Following the attack, the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that protects British Jews from anti-Semitism and related threats, issued a warning to synagogues in the Manchester area to be vigilant against attacks, with several Jewish holidays coming up.
A spokesperson added: "CST utterly condemns this assault, which appears to have been the consequence of the type of random and thuggish street anti-Semitism and violence that is all too common: even if it does not usually have such an extreme outcome.
"There is no reason to suggest that the attack was either pre-planned or in any way connected to international terrorism, but it has understandably caused much concern and distress within the Jewish community of north Manchester. CST entirely shares these worries, and we will continue working with the victims' families, our Jewish community and local police in every way possible at this time."