MANCHESTER NEWS
‘Distasteful’ poster removed

MANCHESTER

Literature Festival organisers have removed posters advertising one of the events after a complaint from a local man.

The posters — advertising an evening with historian Simon Schama — featured a Magen David daubed across the words “Belonging”.

But after Daniel Kasmir contacted festival bosses, it was removed yesterday.

Mr Kasmir said: “I was driving to Piccadilly train station when I saw the poster.

“At first I thought it had been daubed.

“On my way back, I had another look and realised it was actually part of the poster. I found it very offensive and had a knot in my stomach.

“Seeing something so prominent could condone future actions by people who would seek to vandalise buildings in a similar way.

“I don’t think for a second it was antisemitic, but it was a poor error of judgement and distasteful.”

Festival organisers Cathy Bolton and Sarah-Jane Roberts issued an apology.

They said: “It was far from our intention to upset anyone. There is a strong theme of protest, activism and empowerment running through this year’s festival programme, with many writers reflecting on inequalities and misuse of power.

“Our ‘graffiti’ marketing campaign, using powerful symbols and words in a spray- painted style, was intended to pay homage to the art of protest.

“We certainly did not intend for the Star of David to be viewed as a symbol of antisemitism.

“However, we can now see how the posters may have caused distress and we regret using this design.

“One of our aims is to encourage positive dialogue between different communities within the city and we are profoundly sorry to have caused distress.”

A decade ago, the front door of Mr Kasmir’s Salford home was daubed with swastikas and Magen Davids.

“That was a hate crime and I don’t see how the posters are any different,” he added.

Mr Kasmir also slammed the CST and the Board of Deputies for their reactions when he contacted them about the poster.

Mr Kasmir, who runs a management consultancy firm, said: “The CST said they knew about the poster. However, they curiously added that it was not their responsibility to do anything about it as they are there to protect the community.

“I’d have thought that removal of hate-invoking posters was part of protecting the community.

“And someone at the BoD said he had seen the poster, admitted it was distasteful — but took no action.

“I am disappointed in both lame responses.”

A CST spokesman told the Jewish Telegraph: “We still believe that the posters are in bad taste and will offend quite a few people. This occurred at the busiest operational security time of year for CST.

“We tried to explain our overall work to Mr Kasmir and how we would like the community to discuss it with the festival organisers. But obviously he remains disappointed with the outcome.”

A Board spokesman said: “While it is a striking campaign, we don’t feel that it crosses the line into bad taste. It is is a judgement call for the festival organisers.”


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