Romania asked to scrap racist coin

2010-08-02 21:17

Bucharest - A leading Holocaust group has demanded that Romania's central bank withdraws from circulation a commemorative coin of a former church leader who held anti-Semitic views and called for Jews to leave Romania.

Radu Ioanid, a director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum said he was "shocked" by the bank's decision to mint the coin depicting late Patriarch Miron Cristea, who led the Romanian Orthodox Church from 1925 to 1939.

Ioanid said the patriarch, who was prime minister from 1938-1939, was responsible for revising the citizenship law, stripping about 225 000 Jews - or 37% of the Jewish population - of their Romanian citizenship.

Ioanid demanded the bank withdraws the coin in a private letter sent to the National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu on July 29 and later sent to the Associated Press.

The National Bank of Romania spokesperson Mugur Stet said on Monday the coin was part of a collectors' series of five coins, minted in silver, with the country's five patriarchs who have headed the Romanian Orthodox Church since 1925, and not a special coin dedicated just to Cristea.

Romania today has only 6 000 Jews, and the country at times denied that the extermination of some 300 000 Jews and Gypsies during Holocaust even happened.