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Romania probes death threats against Jewish theater director

Intelligence services launch investigation after Maia Morgenstern received message vowing to ‘set fire to your idiotic Jewish theater’

Romanian Jewish actress Maia Morgenstern speaks in Bucharest, Romania, June 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Romanian Jewish actress Maia Morgenstern speaks in Bucharest, Romania, June 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Romanian authorities said Sunday they were investigating death threats received by the director of a Jewish theater in Bucharest claiming to be from a nationalist party, which has denied involvement.

Maia Morgenstern, known in part for having played the role of the Virgin Mary in Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ,” shared a long email message containing insults and threats on her Facebook account on Saturday.

It was said to be “from the AUR formation” (Alliance for the Unity of Romanians) and came at the start of the Passover holiday.

The letter, since removed from the page, “promised to set fire to [your] idiotic Yiddish theater,” according to a screenshot seen by AFP.

The investigation being carried out in collaboration with the intelligence services has identified two suspects, the Digi24 television channel reported.

Their identity has not been revealed, but searches were said to be underway at their homes in Bucharest and Timisoara.

AUR president George Simion immediately denied any involvement, saying he was “dismayed by this nauseating and unspeakable attack.”

Historian Alexandru Muraru, recently appointed special government representative for the fight against anti-Semitism, called on police “to deal with this serious case quickly and with the utmost seriousness,” a statement said.

He denounced “the xenophobic, anti-Semitic and conspiratorial public utterings” of AUR’s elected officials, noting a “degradation” of the climate “unprecedented since the 1990s.”

The far-right party close to the Orthodox Church, the majority in Romania, unexpectedly crossed the five percent mark to enter parliament in December elections and now has 31 deputies.

A highly respected theater and film actress in Romania, Morgenstern has starred in more than 40 films and directs the State Jewish Theater, one of the oldest Yiddish theaters in Europe.

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