07/05/2006, 00.00
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Chief Rabbi asks Pope to stop Jerusalem gay parade

Top Sephardic leader is hopeful religious leaders' protest will stop the event that violates and humiliates the holy city. Chief Ashkenazi rabbi also wants the parade stopped.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reports today that in an unusual move, Israel's Chief Sephardic leader, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, asking for his help to stop the World Gay Pride parade scheduled for next month in Jerusalem, which "violate[s] its honour and humiliate its greatness".

The paper also reports survey results released at a Knesset Internal Affairs Committee meeting which indicate that among secular Jews, 63 percent oppose the parade as do 81 percent of conservative Jews, 99 percent of National Religious, 100 percent of Orthodox, and 92 percent of Arab Muslims and Christians.

"We were shocked to hear of plans to hold the world Pride Parade in the Holy City," Rabbi Amar wrote. "The city which the entire world looks up to due to its holiness and glory, is now being attacked by evil people who wish to violate its honor and humiliate its greatness with deeds that the Torah despises, as well as all other religions. There is no need to elaborate about their plans and evil actions that bring humanity's dignity to the ground."

Rabbi Amar calls on the Pope "to object this terrible phenomenon, in the hope that the protest of religious leaders will guide lost souls who fool and harm themselves badly and will deter evil people from corrupting humanity".

In his letter, he also expressed concerns over the "bad influence" the gay community might exert on children and teenagers, who could be corrupted.

For his part, Israel's chief Ashkenazi rabbi, Yona Metzger, who is in Moscow for the World Religious Leaders Summit organised by the Orthodox Patriarchate, called for the cancellation of "the pride parade in the Holy City of Jerusalem".

"As everyone knows," he said, "Jerusalem is the cradle in which the three monotheistic religions spouted. We have to unite to preserve its historical holiness and the values of purity and morality which characterize it."

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