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Rabbi, imam and bishop unite on Belgian stamp

Rabbi Albert Guigui, Imam Khalid Benhaddou and Bishop Johan Bonny BPOST PHOTO
Rabbi Albert Guigui, Imam Khalid Benhaddou and Bishop Johan Bonny BPOST PHOTO

In an effort to promote coexistence amongst all religions, the Belgian post office, Bpost, has announced a new stamp to feature three religious Belgian leaders: the country’s chief rabbi Albert Guigui, Imam Khalid Benhaddou from the Belgian port city of Ghent and the Bishop of Antwerp Johan Bonny.

The stamp, to be unveiled sometime in 2016, will display a powerful message of unity and equality: “Everybody equal, everybody different.”

“The stamp is meant to show that in Belgium, despite what is happening and what people hear in the news, there are good relations between faiths,” said the 70-year-old Guigui, who has served as Belgium’s chief rabbi for over three decades, during an interview with the Times of Israel. “The photo shows us holding hands, united and working together.”

The three religious leaders were photographed by Flemish photographer Lieve Blancquaert in Antwerp.

“A stamp, which is something used in such a widespread manner, can get the message out to all people. What is needed is to bring the interfaith cooperation and dialogue down from the level of the religious leaders to that of the everyday people,” Guigui said.

Over the last few years, Belgium has witnessed a growing number of anti-Semitic attacks. During last year’s 50-day war between Hamas and the IDF, a Belgian café offended many after posting a “No Jews Allowed” sign on its door, reminiscent of signs posted in Germany during the Nazi era. Philippe Markiewicz, president of the Jewish community of Brussels, said during an interview with Ynet News that, “There is a certain level of anti-Semitism in Europe, and not only in Belgium, but we should not exaggerate. The majority of the Belgian people are not anti-Semitic.”

Earlier this year, a Belgian insurance company made headlines after refusing to insure a Jewish kindergarten due to a “high risk” of anti-Semitic attacks.

It is this kind of mentality that Rabbi Guigui hopes to abolish with the new stamp. “When people start to know and speak with one another, there is less fear,” he said.