Simon Wiesenthal Center Hosts Interfaith Leadership Crisis Meeting

**UPDATE TO THIS STORY**


Wiesenthal Centre to French Interior Minister: "Protect Coptic Community in France from Jihadi Threats of Violence

Paris, 5 January 2011

In a letter to French Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, expressed horror to learn that "hot on the heels of the atrocities in Egypt, there have been threats of violence against the Coptic Parish of France".

Samuels recalled that "the late Simon Wiesenthal consistently stated that 'what begins with the Jews never ends with them'.Jihadi antisemitism is now adding an anti-Christian guise, apparently no longer limited to the Middle East".

The Centre expressed "solidarity with the families of the innocent victims in Egypt, cut down at prayer in their Church...it also stands together with the Coptic community in France and across Europe" and called on the Minister "to take all necessary measures to contain menaces against Christians as against all other faith communities".

For further information contact Dr. Shimon Samuels on 0033(0)609770158


Against the backdrop of attacks on Christian communities in the Middle East, religious leaders gathered at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance to immediately address the growing crisis which has now manifested in a deadly attack on Christian Copts in Egypt.

 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Open Doors USA joined other faith leaders from across Southern California to express solidarity with Iraq’s threatened Christian community and to call upon the new session of Congress and the European Union to immediately address this crisis.

(L-R): Randolph Dobbs, Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Los Angeles; Swami Sarvadevandanda, Vedanta Society of Southern California; Nirinjan Singh Khalsa, California Sikh Council; Dr. Carl Moeller, Open Doors USA; Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rosie Malek-Yonan, Assyrian Christian activist; Imam Jihad Turk, Islamic Center of Southern California; Father Alexei Smith, Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Photo: Bart Batholomew

(click on photo for hi-res)

The last few months have seen an alarming rise in killings, kidnappings and terror attacks targeted against Iraqi Christians by Islamist extremists. In October, terrorists from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, acting on their pledge to kill Christians “wherever they can reach them,” massacred 58 people, including over 50 worshippers and 2 priests, at one of Baghdad’s largest churches. A recent New York Times report said that over half of Iraq’s 2000-year old community, once numbered close to a million before the 2003 Iraq war, have either fled the country or moved north to the Kurdistan region.

“The Christians in the Middle East, including Iraq, have become the new Jews of our times,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Wiesenthal Center’s Director of Interfaith Relations. “We call on all people of faith, and all Americans, to speak up for the embattled Christians of Iraq and against the disturbing pattern of violence against other faiths and places of worship.” Dr. Carl Moeller, President of Open Doors USA, an organization dedicated to the freedom to worship for embattled Christians worldwide, said, “The 'religicide' of Christians holds disturbing parallels to a previous effort to eliminate Iraqi Jews in 1941.... Many Jews fled and today virtually nothing remains of the once-vibrant community.

Rabbi Adlerstein and Dr. Moeller along with Randolph Dobbs, Secretary for Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Los Angeles; Rosie Malek-Yonan, Assyrian Christian activist and author of The Crimson Field; Swami Sarvadevandanda, Assistant Minister at the Vedanta Society of Southern California; Nirinjan Singh Khalsa, Executive Director of the California Sikh Council; Father Alexei Smith, Director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Los Angeles Archdiocese; and Imam Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California, called on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass HR 1725, a resolution “condemning and deploring the murderous attacks, bombings, kidnappings, and threats against vulnerable religious communities in Iraq.”

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).