Belarusian Prosecutor Harasses Jewish Community

(June 6, 2006)

The prosecutor's office in the city of Mogilyov, Belarus has issued an official warning to a Jewish music group, claiming that if violated the law by holding Purim celebrations inside a government building, according to a May 24, 2006 report by the AEN news agency. Because private property is relatively scarce in Belarus and the government has been extremely slow to return Jewish property confiscated by the Soviet government to its rightful owners, local Jews often have to rent government owned buildings to hold religious and cultural events.

Purim celebrations in Mogilyov featured the Jewish musical group Alef, which performed at a kindergarten earlier this year. The city prosecutor viewed this action as a violation of the country's restrictive religion law, arguing that it violated the rights of local children and that television coverage of the event illegally "propagandized" the Jewish faith.

Disturbingly, the prosecutor's official warning contained citations from an antisemitic tract-"How Antisemites Are Made" by Deacon Andrey Kuraev, a prominent figure in extremist nationalist circles of the Russian Orthodox Church.