Following attacks, European rabbis issue manifesto on extremism

Group that represents Orthodox communities across Europe says body for the purposes of religious discourse on extremism must be established.

January 11, 2015 21:03
1 minute read.
Rabbi Baksht of Odessa addresses members of the CER in Tbilisi Tuesday

Rabbi Baksht of Odessa addresses members of the CER in Tbilisi. (photo credit: SAM SOKOL)

The Conference of European Rabbis has released a manifesto on religious extremism calling on faith communities to take responsibility for their own zealots following last week’s attacks on a satirical magazine and kosher supermarket in Paris.

“Platitudes and strongly worded statements distancing mainstream faith communities from acts of terrorism are entirely inadequate. This problem calls for tangible and measurable steps with honest evaluation of progress,” the group, which represents Orthodox communities across the continent, stated, adding that it hoped that leaders of other faith communities would adopt their recommendations.

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Local clerics should receive their training and salary from within Europe and while it may not be practical to refuse residency to foreign trained religious leaders, “it is certainly possible to insist that they undertake further training in Europe which specifically deals with the dangers of extremism,” the Rabbis said.

Moreover, they said, a body for the purposes of religious discourse on extremism must be established.

While governments the world over have struggled to get a handle on extremism, the Rabbis stated, “it is religious communities themselves who should carry the burden of responsibility to offer tangible solutions to this intractable global problem.”

“Nobody truly understands the strengths, weaknesses and subtleties of a faith community as well as deeply committed adherents to that faith. They are therefore uniquely placed to create meaningful change and must recognize the responsibilities in this area.”

All donations from abroad greater than five thousand Euros must be made public in the interests of transparency in order to “reduce the covert influence of groups like al-Muhajiroun and the Muslim Brotherhood,” the added, recommending the establishment of grant making bodies which would themselves be subject to government scrutiny.

Each European religious organization should also appoint an “Extremism Prevention Officer” to “create a protocol for identifying and reporting concerns about extremism” and report to the “relevant authorities,” the rabbis stated.

The group also recommended the establishment of various national registers of religious congregations that have accepted the measures proposed by the CER to set apart member groups as “recognized beacons of best practice.”

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