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Archbishop - Faith communities must abhor anti-Semitism

Thursday 26th January 2006

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called on faith communities to demonstrate their abhorrence of anti-Semitism and take steps to ensure that it does not appear in religious institutions.

In a statement to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Dr Williams welcomed the establishment of an All-Party Parliamentary Enquiry in the UK into rising levels of anti-Semitism and urged religious communities to play their part:

"I hope that all religious communities will make clear ... their abhorrence of anti-Semitism and the measures they are taking to ensure that it finds not the smallest foothold in our churches, mosques gurdwaras or temples."

The Archbishop warned that rhetoric across the world increased the impact of anti-Semitism at the very local level:

"Is it not a matter of the gravest concern that a religious community in this country must, on the advice of the police, put in place a range of security measures for its worship, the education of its children and its social activities? For what other religious community is this systematically the case? This is serious enough, but elsewhere in the world there are inflammatory bigoted and irresponsible statements made even by some in prominent public positions."

Dr Williams stressed the importance of inter religious dialogues and initiatives across the world and welcomed efforts being made to promote education about the Holocaust. He emphasised the significance of the 350th anniversary of the Resettlement of the Jewish community in the country:

"As a nation we should celebrate this anniversary, marking as it does not only an attempt to right some of the terrible wrings earlier inflicted on Jewish people but also as an opportunity to celebrate the quite remarkable contributions of Jewish people to every aspect of the life of this country. Without the resettlement, it is hard to imagine what our history, culture politics or economy would be like today. Without doubt we would have been greatly the poorer."

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