Rome Jews join initiative for persecuted Christians, abducted Nigerians

ROME (JTA) — The lights illuminating the Colosseum in Rome will be switched off as a show of support for persecuted Christians around the world and the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria.

The initiative on Thursday is being co-sponsored by the Rome Jewish community and the Community of Sant’ Egidio, a Roman Catholic association that fosters interfaith dialogue, with the support of the city’s mayor.

A poster for the event calls for “Solidarity with persecuted Christians” and “For the Liberty of the Nigerian Students.”

An announcement on the Rome Jewish community website said the general public is invited to meet at the Colosseum, Rome’s most famous ancient monument, to express “solidarity with Christians who risk their lives to profess their religion” and “to say ‘Enough’ to any form of fanaticism and extremism; to say ‘Enough’ to any type of persecution, and to remember the souls of those where were victims of anti-Christian hatred.”

It adds, “The persecution of Christians, too often undervalued or hidden behind a veil of indifference, everywhere transcends religious denominations and must prompt an intervention of solidarity by all men and women of good will.”

The Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem said Sunday that vandalism by suspected Jewish extremists “poison the atmosphere” of the upcoming visit to Israel by Pope Francis. He called the so-called “price tag” attacks “acts of terror.”

Last year, in another initiative co-sponsored by the Jewish community, the lights of the Colosseum were dimmed to protest anti-Semitic and racist acts and statements by Hungary’s ultranationalist Jobbik party. In 2010, the Colosseum lights were turned off in support of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

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