(JTA) — Members of three London-area synagogues have threatened to boycott an event featuring fashion designer John Galliano, who was fired from Christian Dior over an anti-Semitic rant.
Galliano is scheduled to speak at the end of the month on a panel hosted by the three central London synagogues on the topic of religion and fashion. The event is sponsored by the chief rabbinate.
Congregants launched a petition against Galliano’s appearance, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Christian Dior fired Galliano, a British national, in March 2011 after he was filmed making anti-Semitic statements at a Paris bar. Galliano stated his love for Adolf Hitler and told people he believed were Jewish that their mothers should have been gassed. He blamed his outbursts on addictions to drugs and alcohol.
“It’s the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn’t mean it,” Galliano said in an interview with Vanity Fair in an article in the July 2013 issue.
A French court ruled in September 2011 that Galliano in several incidents had made “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity.” He was sentenced to a suspended fine and no jail time.
Galliano has worked for two years with London Rabbi Barry Marcus, the rabbi at one of the sponsoring synagogues, Central Synagogue, who educated him about the Holocaust. Marcus was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year for his work in Holocaust education.
Marcus called Galliano “a man of dignity; a creative man who made a mistake and regrets it. Who are we to judge someone who reaches out to us and who wants to learn? We need to listen.”
“There are plenty of high-profile people who have said anti-Semitic things who have not asked for forgiveness,” he said according to the Jewish Chronicle.