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Anti-Semitism in the European Union:
Luxembourg

(Updated December 2003)


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According to a 1979 law, the government may not collect or maintain statistics on religious affiliation. But this is not the only reason why it is difficult for the leaders of the Jewish communities to carry out an accurate census: a great many of the Jews only pass through Luxembourg. Within the Jewish population (1200, 650 of whom are members of the Jewish community) there are nearly no orthodox families and a great many non-practising Jews. Luxembourg is the smallest Jewish community in Europe, in accordance with the overall population (440,000) of the country. The Jewish population is extremely well integrated into the social, community and cultural life of the country. In terms of attitudes towards minority groups Luxembourg meets the European average on the EUMC Eurobarometer, whereby a high rate of agreement for improving the rights of minorities exists side by side with a strong rejection of working migrants. Since 1997 the negative attitudes have increased. But the excellent economic situation, in which the Grand Duchy finds itself, with an unemployment rate below 3%, certainly fosters benevolence among the population.

1. Physical acts of violence

In Luxembourg physical aggression in general and especially against Jews is rather rare. It might be explained by an absence of deeper social conflicts and extreme right parties. According to ASTI, the representative of the Jewish community and the secretary general of the Israelite Consistory, no act of violence or aggression against Jews or their institutions are know of for the period from 15 May to 15 June 2002; indeed for the whole year up to now no aggressive act has been committed.

2. Verbal aggression/hate speeches

Neither the police nor the Jewish community reported any real verbal anti-Semitic aggression during the reference period. In mid-May, an anonymous letter was sent to a representative of the Jewish community with the following content: “Down with Sharon …!” The Jewish community has not deemed this letter to be anti-Semitic, but an expression of rejection of the Sharon policy. At the same time, on a bridge support on the motorway towards France, the inscription “Sharon, assassin” (murderer) appeared. In this case, the Jewish community also stressed that it was a political statement. In their opinion the two acts are to be considered as isolated political incidents, albeit in direct relation to the escalation of violence in the Middle East, but not anti-Semitic.

3. Research studies

No studies have been undertaken regarding anti-Semitism in Luxembourg. The last opinion poll carried out by “Ilres” (National Polling Institute) on behalf of the European Community took place in 1997. It focussed on racism in the broadest sense of the term, thus including xenophobia and anti-Semitism, and revealed that only 2% of Luxembourg people considered themselves to be racist/could be considered as having racist leanings. The Eurobarometer 2000 shows that Luxembourg is one of the countries where many people support policies for improving social coexistence between different ethnic groups. 33% have passively tolerant and 28% actively tolerant attitudes toward minority groups. But negative attitudes have increased over the past years.

4. Good practices for reducing prejudice, violence and aggression

On 16 June 2002 within the context of the European Day of Jewish Culture, the Jewish community invited the population of Luxembourg to discover the Jewish heritage and find out about the traditions of Judaism. The Jewish community registered a higher number of visitors than in previous years. On 10 May the “Service National de la Jeunesse” (National Youth Service) organised a “Journée du Souvenir” (Remembrance Day) on the theme “It is necessary to know history in order to prepare for the future”. In the presence of the Luxembourg Minister of Culture, Luxembourg internees of concentration camps during the Second World War told young people of their experiences. The Minister stressed the fact that the Luxembourg government will be increasing the number of initiatives of this sort. Also in 2002, classes from various educational establishments in Luxembourg will visit concentration camps in the company of their former Luxembourg prisoners. This initiative has made a considerable contribution to increasing the awareness of young people to the problems of anti-Semitism. In fact, each time long reports were published in the press and presented on Luxembourg television. On 15 May a panel dealing more directly with the situation in the Middle East was organised at the capital’s high school on the subject “Without justice and responsibility there will be no peace”. Representatives of religious communities, secular bodies and freemasons explained their points of view. This initiative was a part of the Luxembourg project “Towards a culture of peace” initiated in that school. The only event on the theme “Towards an equitable peace in the Middle East”, organised by the “Friddensbeweegung” (Peace Movement), brought together 250 persons belonging to humanitarian groups and various left-wing parties in Luxembourg at the beginning of April.

5. Reactions by politicians and other opinion leaders

As neither acts of violence nor overt or latent anti-Semitic tendencies have been observed in Luxembourg, the reactions of politicians and opinion leaders is limited to condemning such acts occurring in other European countries. Ministers in the Luxembourg government and members of parliament from all parties, but also many diplomats traditionally attend the religious services held in synagogues for the Luxembourg National Day celebrations. At the same time, the Chief Rabbi and representatives of the Jewish community attend the “Te Deum” for National Day in the Nôtre Dame Cathedral, and other ecumenical services and official events.


Sources: C.R.I.F. - Released by the European Jewish Congress

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