Chilean president meets Jewish officials over hatred and discrimination law

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Jewish officials have met Chile’s president to request her commitment to approve a new bill to protect citizens from acts motivated by hatred and discrimination.

“We have worked with different bodies, as a community, proving that there is a political, parliamentary and social consensus to adopt a regulatory framework of this nature,” Shai Agosin, head of the Chilean Jewish Community, told President Michelle Bachelet during a meeting last week at the Palacio de la Moneda in Santiago.

The meeting focused on the importance that the Jewish community has been giving to the “Law Against Incitement to Violence.” It has undergone several setbacks in its legislative discussion noting that the absence of a legal norm has led to an increase in acts of discrimination, violence and hatred in the country, without any sanction.

“Today it is gratuitous to insult a Muslim, a Jew, or an immigrant. Any minority can be violated and therefore it is a priority to have an update of the Anti-Discrimination Law, which is absolutely insufficient,” Agosin added.

In April, the Palestinian Federation of Chile threatened the country’s Jewish umbrella organization over its support of Israel’s decision to bar a Chilean boycott activist from entering the Jewish state.

“We warn the Jewish leadership not to play with fire,” read a statement by the Palestinian federation regarding its executive director, Anuar Majluf, prominent anti-Israel activist who was refused entry by the Israeli government on April 10.

The country’s Jewish community had released a statement defending Israel’s ban on Majluf after the Chilean Foreign Ministry condemned the move.

In February, a senior official of an entity tied to the Chilean government threatened to expel Israeli tourists from hostels in the country after a group was removed from a national park.

One month before, a young Jewish and gay activist wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the flag of Israel was attacked at a Santiago park and suffered several razor cuts perpetrated by three men who carried neo-Nazi symbols.

Chile is home to some 15,000 Jews. The country is also believed to host the largest Palestinian community outside of the Arab world, with more than 300,000 members.

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