Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Russia Prosecutors Drop Text Inquiry

By HENRY MEYER
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 28, 2005; 8:28 PM

MOSCOW -- Prosecutors dropped an inquiry Tuesday into whether a Russian translation of an ancient Jewish text incites national and religious hatred _ a decision that drew praise from Russia's chief rabbi and Israel's vice premier.

Rabbi Berel Lazar said he had contacted prosecutors to explain that the text was not aimed at non-Jews and to complain that officials seeking the probe had "anti-Semitic sentiments."

"I'm happy that this case has been dropped," Lazar told The Associated Press, adding that he'd been personally informed of the decision by the Moscow prosecutor's office.

The prosecutor's office declined comment. That office was responsible for the investigation into whether the Russian translation of Kitsur Shulhan Arukh, a 19th century summary of Jewish religious laws, provokes religious hatred.

The original probe was initiated after two nationalist activists complained the text is aimed at "insulting human dignity based on national and religious affiliation," according to an earlier prosecutors' statement posted on the Web site of an anti-xenophobia group, Sova. The text was also accused of labeling Christians "worshippers of idols" in a reference to Christians' main religious symbol, the cross.

Link to the full text here

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