ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greece will establish a national day of remembrance for Greek Jews who perished during the Holocaust, the government announced Friday.
The decision came amid growing criticism from Jewish groups that Greece has been failing to curb what they have described as growing anti-Semitism in the country.
In its announcement, the Interior Ministry said that it will submit legislation to Parliament making Jan. 27*#8212;the day prisoners were liberated from the Auschwitz concentration camp*#8212;a *#8220;Day of Remembrance of Greek Jewish Holocaust Victims.*#8221;
It said the decision was taken after consultations with Greeces main opposition parties.
More than 90 percent of Greeces 80,000 Jews perished in Nazi death camps*#8211;including Auschwitz*#8212;or during the German occupation of Greece in World War II.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a travel advisory urging Jewish travelers to avoid visiting Greece for the 2004 Olympics. It also noted *#8220;growing anti-Semitism and xenophobic expressions of hate*#8221; in the country.
The Wiesenthal Center *#8211;which also has offices in New York, Jerusalem and Paris*#8211;was started by the renowned Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
The center said its move was prompted by a number of recent incidents, including the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials, as well a recent art exhibition in an Athens gallery that *#8220;glorifies*#8221; female suicide bombers who have carried out attacks in Israel.
It also cited recent *#8220;anti-Semitic*#8221; remarks by prominent Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis.
The Greek government has objected to Theodorakis comments. It also strongly condemned the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery and Holocaust memorial.
The Israeli embassy in Greece sought to distance itself from the advisory issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
*#8220;The Israeli government has no connection with this so-called travel advisory and stresses that Greece is a country with which it maintains excellent and friendly relations,*#8221; the embassy said in a statement.