A city in Lithuanian has drawn outrage from the local Jewish community over its plan to build a bicycle track in an area site where thousands of Jews were buried during the Holocaust.
The construction of the track in Šiauliai had started last week and was brought to the attention of Jewish officials after it emerged some of it would pass through the grounds where many Jews were murdered by the Nazis and Lithuanian soldiers, who dumped their bodies in the forest land.
A member of the Conference of European Rabbis, Kalev Krelin, who is also the Chief Rabbi of Lithuania over the weekend visited the site and managed to temporarily stop the construction works, demanding the path be rerouted.
"I'm very shocked. If it is not enough that our people were murdered on this land, now their remains are defiled for a bicycle track?!"
The head of the local Jewish community, Sania Krabalis, said that human remains were buried along a large chuck of the planned route.
As a result, Deputy Mayor Simona Potalan held an emergency meeting with the relevant authorities - the heads of the historical site conservation department and the the construction division - later announcing the track would be rerouted and an updated plan will be unveiled within a month.
In addition, they also decided to renovate the small sign at the memorial constructed in the area and mark the boundaries of the burial site in order to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.
"It is sad that we had to intervene in order to prevent the grave desecration of murdered Jews," Rabbi Krelin said. "I hope this will be the end of this issue and a lesson for them and others.
"I'm still very worried and disturbed that even though they knew about the memorial site and they were the ones who put up the signs, they still decided to build the bicycle track there," he added.