A city council member from Geneva, Switzerland has warned his municipality against allowing a public Hanukkah event -- which he said would violate Swiss law -- the Jewish Press website reports today (December 1, 2013).
"I'm not afraid of being called anti-Semitic, because my request is not directed at a religious community but at the authorities, which do not comply with the law by issuing an authorization for this event," council member Pierre Gauthier is quoted as telling the Tribune de Geneve daily newspaper.
In a letter to the mayor, Gauthier -- who is the secretary of a not-for-profit organization called "Geneva Secular Coordination" -- cited Switzerland's Law of Foreign Worship, which states that "no celebration of worship, procession or any religious ceremony is allowed on public roads."
He urged the mayor's office to cancel a public candle-lighting event on Mollard Square scheduled for December 3. The organizer of the event, Rabbi Mendel Pevzner of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, told the Tribune, "This is not a religious event but a moment of sharing, open to all faiths. Since 1991, we have never encountered a problem."