The British government has announced millions of pounds in extra funding for heavy security at Jewish schools, amid a rising threat from Islamist attacks.
The Home Office confirmed to Schools Week that they have granted the Community Security Trust (CST), which funds security measures for the Jewish community, more than £13 million.
A spokesman for CST rejected “competition for victimhood” claims after a Muslim schools said they would expect similar funding.
The money will be used to step up security in Jewish state schools, and other community sites, after antisemitic attacks across Europe.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “A key responsibility for government and the police is to protect individuals and the communities in which they live.
“Following recent attacks against individuals and Jewish community sites, including in Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels and Toulouse, there have been considerable efforts from the police, working with the community, to mitigate any threats to Jewish interests in the UK.
“This funding is to provide further measures as part of these ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community.”
Zafar Ali, chair of governors at IQRA Slough Islamic primary school, in Berkshire, said he did not “begrudge” money going to Jewish schools and not Muslim schools, but if similar issues arose he would expect the government to offer similar aid.
A spokesperson from CST rebutted the claims of what he called “competition for victimhood”. He said that “nobody wanted to see security at schools” but said it was a “harsh reality” for Jewish communities.
Adding: “There is no perverse competition for victimhood in this context. If others are similarly targeted for terrorism, then we would expect them also to receive assistance from government and police, whether these are schools or any other facilities.”
The Home Office told Schools Week that the police were already doing more to protect Muslim schools.
They said the police “consider appropriate response arrangements” to terrorism and have “increased protection and reassurance to Islamic communities” since the Paris attacks.
They did not say why similar funding was not yet available for other religious groups. However, the fact that there have been no deadly attacks on Muslim schools in Europe may be the reason – although provocative and offensive attacks have been recorded.
There has been a succession of violent attacks against Jews in Europe, linked to Islamic State and the European network set up by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who masterminded the November Paris terror attacks that left 130 dead.
In March 2012, Mohamed Merah killed seven people in Toulouse – Four of his victims, including three children, were murdered at a Jewish day school. In 2014 Mehdi Nemmouche, a French national of Algerian origin, killed four visitors to the Jewish Museum in Brussels.
France has the largest Jewish population in Europe, estimated at 500,000 to 600,000 people. Half of them live in the Paris region but their numbers have declined steadily over the past 15 years, researchers say.
A record 8,000 or so French Jews moved to Israel in 2015 alone, and many have moved to London too.
According to Marc Meyer, the French chairman of the Hendon United Synagogue and director of the Conference of European Rabbis, French Jewish children now make up 50 per cent of the intake at London’s Jewish schools.