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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Romanian central bank accused of racism

Romania's central bank has been accused of racism by the Holocaust Museum in Washington over a coin depicting an inter-war Orthodox Church leader who held anti-Semitic views.

The central bank marked 125 years since the setting up of the Romanian Orthodox Church with five silver coins, the first of which was of Miron Cristea, who led the Church between 1925 and 1939 and headed the Romanian government 1938-39.

As prime minister, Cristea amended the citizenship law, thereby stripping 225,000 Jews (or 37 percent of the country's total Jewish population) of their Romanian citizenship.

"By minting these coins we definitely did not wish to send a racist, xenophobic or anti-Semitic message," BNR governor Mugur Isarescu said.

He added the BNR was making "a clear distinction between the patriarch and the prime minister".

But he stressed that after receiving a letter of protest from the Holocaust Museum he decided to set up a commission that will "analyze the situation and come up with a solution".

"The decision should be made public in a few days' time," Isarescu said.

In a study published in 2004, an international commission of historians said Cristea "demonized the Jews" and called for their deportation.

The commission also established that some 270,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews died between 1940 and 1944, during marshal Ion Antonescu's pro-Nazi regime, while some 25,000 Gypsies were deported, half of whom died.

Romania had long denied its participation in Nazi Germany's Holocaust, triggering criticism from Israel and Jewish organizations.

The Telegraph