Russian protesters call for ban on Chabad movement – anti-Semitism at play?

Demonstrators protesting the allocation of land to the Jewish community in the Russian city of Perm have demanded the outlawing of the Chabad movement. The rationale behind the protest is exceptionally questionable with distinct anti-Semitic elements.
On Saturday, the protesters showed up with signs reading “Chabad out” and “liberate us Russians from Chabad.” One protester held a placard that read “Chabad settlement is over the line: 1547,” an apparent reference to  the decision that year by Ivan the Terrible, a grand prince of Moscow, to ban Jews from entering or living in his kingdom because they “bring about great evil.”
More than 100 people attended the rally near the area that municipal authorities in Perm, which is located 870 miles east of Moscow, designated for transfer without charge to the local Jewish community that is headed by a Chabad rabbi.
They additionally sang a song titled “Holy War,” a patriotic nationalist tune widely identified with Russia’s fight against Nazi Germany.
Unrest around the Jewish community of Perm has been brewing for years amid accusations made in 2013 that the local Jewish community made unauthorized use of a local theatre. That same year anti-Semites tried to set fire to the local synagogue. No-one has ever been brought to justice for the crime.

Yet participants insisted they are protesting against Chabad specifically and not against Jews in general, the Russian news site Ura reported.

Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Russian President Vladimir Putin

However, Boruch Gorin, a senior Chabad figure and aide to one of Russia’s two Chief Rabbis, Berel Lazar, said the 2013 campaign against Chabad in Perm was a thin disguise for anti-Semitism.

In Russia, Chabad is the largest Jewish movement with a presence in over 100 cities.

Separately, Putin on Tuesday said that “Russian Jewish organizations are making a substantial contribution in the cause of domestic political stability in Russia, for which we are very grateful” during a meeting in Moscow with Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress.

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