A road sign appearing to warn people to ‘Beware of Jews’ was actually an art project, the creator has claimed, while expressing his “regret”.
The artist behind the incident has apologised for causing offence after police launched an investigation into the sign which appeared on a lamppost near a north London synagogue on Tuesday.
Franck Allais’ red triangle sign sparked complains from members of the Jewish community and led to a neighbourhood watch group reporting it for anti-Semitism
Allais told BBC News he “completely regretted” any offence caused by the sign which was variously described by MPs as “despicable” and “disgusting”.
He said the sign was an art project about identity.
“It was a project about crossing the road,” he told The Guardian.
“How everyone is different, everyone has an identity. There is not only one sign in the street. I put more signs up in the street, but only this one got noticed. I am sorry for any offence caused.”
A triangular sign with a red outline normally indicates danger on British roads.
But Allais said he did not believe red warning triangles had a “bad” meaning, but rather advised motorists to “take care” of what is depicted in the image.
The artist has lived in London for 16 years and placed 27 signs across the capital, often featuring silhouetted figures such as shoppers and animals.
The sign which sparked outrage this week depicted a man in a traditional fedora hat and was spotted by a neighbourhood watch group in Stamford Hill.
Labour MPs Diane Abbott and David Lammy slammed the“disgusting” imagery, before it was revealed to have been an art project.
Barry Bard, from the group who spotted the sign, said at the time: “The people of Stamford Hill are very sadly used to instances of anti-Semitic hate crime, but most of those times it will be verbal abuse or even assault.
“The person who planned [this sign] has obviously gone to an effort to cause alarm and distress to local people.”
Rabbi Herschel Gluck, president of Shomrim, told the Press Association: “I’m very pleased that he (Allais) has apologised but rather surprised at his lack of sensitivity and knowledge that a sign like this could prove to be offensive.
“Especially with people who have been traumatised in recent history by similar signs barring them from professions and parks.
“You have to think about the people you are talking about and the type of message and type of meaning it would have for them.”
Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary and MP for Hackney North, denounced the sign as “disgusting” and “unacceptable”.
Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy said the incident amounted to “despicable, nasty behaviour that has absolutely no place in our community”.