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Synagogue killings show ‘divided US’


Source: Global Times    Published: 2018-10-28

At least 11 people were killed and six were injured after a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, reflecting the escalation of social division in the US before the mid-term election, according to a Chinese expert.

"The attack targeted worshipers at a synagogue, and reflected the increased ethnic division in the US in recent years," Shi Yinhong, director of Renmin University's China's Center for American Studies, told Global Times on Sunday.

Shi noted that incidents of domestic terrorism indicate a widening division prompted by the policies, remarks and behaviors of the Trump administration.

In an interview aired on CBS, US President Donald Trump again sparked debate over gun control, saying if the worshippers in synagogue had been armed the result would have been different.

Shi refuted Trump's remarks, noting that this attack was related to the lack of gun regulations in the US.

With the US midterm elections just 10 days away, Diao Daming, associate professor at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday that the election campaigns have intensified American social divisions, while pointing to another potentially violent incident involving the recent mailing of explosive devices to Democrats and liberal figures, as well as the news network CNN.

The explosive devices were delivered to opponents and critics of the Trump administration, provoking heightened national tensions, AFP reported on Saturday.

Chinese netizens expressed their sympathy for the victims and injured, and questioned US gun laws.

"The US government is not willing to forbid guns even though a series of shooting incidents have taken place," wrote "zezedeshouji" on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media.

Police say Robert Bowers, 46, rushed into the Tree of Life synagogue shouting "All Jews must die" and began shooting at people attending a baby-naming ceremony, AFP reported on Saturday.

Bowers also shot and wounded four police officers during a gun fight, in which he was also wounded, AFP said.

The suspect faces 29 charges in a rampage that left the historic Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill and the rest of the nation stunned.

The attack is believed to be the deadliest on the Jewish community in US history, the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement, CNN reported.

Bowers is charged with 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts of two hate crimes: obstruction of the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and obstruction of the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer, authorities said, citing a sealed criminal complaint.

PBS reported in August that 37,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2017.

Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in the past two decades, from 1,267 reported in 1986 to 2,017 in 2016, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

Shi Yinhong is director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words: US   mid-term election   division   Shi Yinhong  

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