Published: Mon, October 29, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Trump calls Pittsburgh synagogue attack ‘evil’ anti-Semitism during visit to southern Illinois

Trump calls Pittsburgh synagogue attack ‘evil’ anti-Semitism during visit to southern Illinois

First responders stand outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a shooter opened fire Saturday.

Authorities said Bowers was armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns when he launched his attack shortly before 10:00 am (1400 GMT) - leaving a scene described as "horrific" by Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh's public safety director.

Trump's latest jab at the media comes as Vice President Mike Pence and White House aides try to tamp down the assertion that the president's words have sown divisiveness or emboldened the men behind either event.

Bob Jones, head of the FBI's Pittsburgh office, said that worshippers "were brutally murdered by a gunman targeting them simply due to their faith", though he cautioned the shooter's full motive was not yet known.

According to a recent report by Pittsburgh's Jewish Chronicle, over 50 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the city between January until September 2018 with the majority occurring in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where some 40 percent of residents are Jewish. He had no previous criminal record, authorities said.

The survivors included Daniel Leger, 70, a nurse and hospital chaplain who was in critical condition after undergoing surgery, his brother, Paul Leger, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The shooter was injured during an exchange of gunfire with police at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue, then taken into custody.

The Pittsburgh gunman reportedly focused his ire on the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), accusing it of funding the Central American caravan of refugees, which he dubbed "invaders".

He wrote: "Screw your optics, I'm going in".

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Just hours after the fatal shooting attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, which led to the deaths of at least 11 people, President Trump attended a political campaign rally in IL.

There is, however, one particular way in which anti-Semitism is being mainstreamed in the United States and in Europe: the propagation of "blood and soil" right-wing nationalism that by definition excludes Jews (whom many nationalists do not consider white).

He has also expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy.

The synagogue's former president, Lynette Lederman, disagrees.

"You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday's violence is the direct culmination of your influence", the open letter said.

"If they had some kind of a protection inside the temple maybe it could have been a much more different situation, they didn't", he said when asked if there was any link to USA gun laws.

Multiple victims were being treated by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, spokeswoman Amy Charley said in a statement on Saturday afternoon.

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.

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