Jewish Equality in Jugo-slavia: Important Safeguards in New Constitution

The new Constitution which has been proclaimed in Juglo-Slavia by King Alexander, contains a number of important provisions safeguarding the status of the Jewish inhabitants, notably the following:

All citizens are equal before the law, and enjoy equal protection on the part of the authorities. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are guaranteed to all citizens. Citizenship and political rights are independent of religious affiliation. The recognised religious communities enjoy autonomy in their internal religious affairs. The State subsidies included in the budget for religious purposes are to be allocated proportionately among the recognised religious communities. Religious functionaries must not misuse their official positions for Party purposes. Political agitation of every description is prohibited at religious services or religious demonstrations. Children attending the schools and the higher educational institutions must be trained in the spirit of national unity and religious tolerance. All official positions in the service of the State are equally open to all citizens.

Antisemitism is entirely unknown in this country, M. Marinkovitch, the Jugo-Slavian Foreign Minister, declared to Mr. Jacob Landau, Managing Director of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, when he was in Belgrade in 1929. There is no Jewish question in Jugo-Slavia, he said. Our country is absolutely free from the poison of antisemitism. Quite the opposite – we Serbs respect and esteem the Jews.

The Jewish religious community in Jugo-Slavia, the Minister went on, is autonomous and is in every respect on an equal level with the other religions. We subsidise the Jewish religious community to the same extent as the other communities. The Chief Rabbi is invited to all public ceremonies in the same way as the heads of the Catholic and Protestant Communities, and in the arrangement of the places, they come immediately after the members of the Government. Chief Rabbi Dr. Alkalay is highly esteemed by everybody. The Jewish population in our country numbers about 60,000 souls. They are mostly engaged in trading and the liberal professions. They are an extremely industrious and valuable element. The majority of the Jews in Jugo-Slavia came here from Spain, and there are in Belgrade many families, which, like the Alkalays, have been living here since the sixteenth century.

The Jewish religious community in Jugo-Slavia is autonomous, and in every respect on an equal level with the other religious communities, and is subsidised by the State equally with the other religious communities. Under the Communities Law of last year the Jewish Community in Jugo_Slavia enjoys the same norms as the Protestant and Catholic Churches. The Federation of Jewish Communities in Jugo-Slavia is recognised by law as the legitimate representation of the Jewish religious community in the country, with the right of imposing taxation upon the members of the Jewish religious community in the country, with the right of imposing taxation upon the members of the Jewish Communities.

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