Pope blasts ‘inhuman, un-Christian’ rebirth of anti-Semitism
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Pope blasts ‘inhuman, un-Christian’ rebirth of anti-Semitism

‘Jews are our brothers,’ Francis declares amid furor in Italy over ongoing harassment of 89-year-old senator and Auschwitz survivor Liliana Segre

Pope Francis does the sign of the cross during his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, May 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis does the sign of the cross during his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, May 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has denounced the “inhuman, un-Christian” rebirth of anti-Semitism, weighing in on an issue that has convulsed Italy in recent weeks.

Speaking at his general audience Wednesday, Francis denounced anti-Semitism, saying it is raging after the world thought the “brutalities” of the Holocaust were over.

He said: “Here and there, there is a new rebirth of persecuting Jews. Brothers and sisters, this isn’t human or Christian. Jews are our brothers. And they must not be persecuted. Understand?”

In Italy, controversy flared recently when Liliana Segre, an 89-year-old Auschwitz survivor and senator-for-life, called for the creation of a parliamentary committee to combat hate, racism and anti-Semitism after revelations that she is subject to some 200 social media attacks each day.

Parliament approved her motion — but without votes from Italy’s right-wing parties.

Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre speaks with young students on the occasion of an Holocaust remembrance, at the Arcimboldi theatre in Milan, Italy, January 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Due to the threats, Milan prefect Renato Saccone convened a meeting last Wednesday with security officials, during which the Carabinieri paramilitary police security detail was ordered, according to Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Segre was 13 when she was sent to Auschwitz, where her father and paternal grandparents were killed. She has spent the last several decades recounting her experiences during the Holocaust to young people.

The vote earlier this month, along with a round of racist chants in a soccer stadium, has focused attention on a growing boldness in anti-Semitic and racist attitudes in Italy, and the role of politicians in sanctioning them.

The Milan-based Center of Contemporary Jewish Documents’ Observatory on Anti-Jewish Prejudice, which disclosed the hateful messages directed toward Segre on social media, says anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in Italy, particularly online. Through the end of September, 190 anti-Semitic incidents had been reported this year to the observatory, 120 of them on social media. That compares with 153 anti-Semitic incidents for all of 2018 and 91 for all of 2017.

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