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BUCHAREST -- The US ambassador in Romania on Friday slammed a central bank decision to go on selling a coin depicting an inter-war leader with anti-Semitic views despite criticism from the Holocaust Museum in Washington. "I am very disappointed by the decision on the part of the National Bank of Romania to issue the coin commemorating Patriarch Miron Cristea", Mark Gitenstein said in a statement.
"Cristea's actions as Prime Minister - specifically his role in the revocation of citizenship for over 225,000 Romanian Jews - cannot be ignored," he added.
Cristea headed the Romanian government in 1938-39.
As prime minister he amended the citizenship law, thereby stripping 37 percent of the country's total Jewish population of their Romanian citizenship.
To mark 125 years since the setting up of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the central bank had minted five silver coins carrying the effigies of its patriarchs since 1925.
The first of the five was Miron Cristea, who led the Church between 1925 and 1939.
At the start of August the central bank received letters of protest from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania.
The bank set up an internal commission to look into the issue.
On Thursday, after the panel released its conclusions, the bank said it would not suspend issuing of the coin, which can be bought since July.
In a statement it said its selection was "in no way and by no means intended to hurt the feelings of any community, to prejudice the interests of specific groups or to convey xenophobic, racist or anti-Semitic messages".
Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.