RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Colombian Jewish journalist was ordered to resign from her anchor post on a daily TV newscast after she refused to cross herself while she was on the air.
Channel 1’s Cathy Bekerman was asked to resign after refusing the order by Yamid Amat, newscast director of the CM& broadcast network, the Agencia Judia de Noticias website reported on Wednesday.
“He told me to cross myself, I did not do it and he asked me to resign at that moment, to which I did not agree,” Bekerman told Colombian media.
The case came to light after radio journalist Azury Chamah, who is Jewish, tweeted about it. According to Graciela Torres, another well-known Colombian journalist, Bekerman showed up in the newsroom two days after the March 14 incident escorted by her father and a lawyer.
“It’s a dark situation for Yamid Amat and his newscast because they could be sued for religious intolerance in a country where there is freedom of worship,” Torres said.
“It is not enough that Cathy’s work situation is ‘solved.’ We expect a public apology from Mr. Amat in light of his discriminatory and violative behavior of freedom of religion guaranteed in the Colombian Constitution,” read a statement released by the Confederation of Jewish Communities of Colombia, the country’s Jewish umbrella organization.
Israel’s ambassador to Colombia also weighed in.
“A journalist with such a broad audience had the chance to use his position to raise awareness about anti-Semitism. Instead, he chose to level scorn on a serious anti-Semitic incident. This is not the way to fight against this scourge: Anti-Semitism is everybody’s problem,” Marco Sermoneta tweeted.
Amat eventually published an apology on Channel 1’s website, reported Publimetro.
“One of my instructions, to accentuate a piece of news that was not about religious beliefs, provoked a rejection from my colleague Cathy Bekerman. Because I feel that I affected her religious convictions without that being my purpose, I offer her a public apology,” he wrote. “May the Jewish community and other religious organizations always receive a respectful treatment from me.”
Chamah tweeted Wednesday that Baccepted the apology from and “is ready to talk again about her return to TV.”