ATHENS, Greece, March 19 (AP) - The government accused the leader of Greece's Orthodox church on Monday of making false allegations by blaming Jews for a decision to eliminate a religion entry from state identity cards.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Jews had nothing to do with a government decision last year to remove the entry as part of an effort to follow European Union trends on privacy protection and civil rights.

``It is beyond reality to claim that someone imposed this decision,'' Reppas said. ``I believe that such an allegation, except that it is an absolute lie, creates problems for the country's international image.''

Archbishop Christodoulos, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, last week blamed Jews for the government decision. It was the first time the Orthodox leadership has openly made such a charge against a religious minority.

``Do you know who is behind the issue of identity cards? The Jews,'' Christodoulos told the Athens daily To Vima. He did not deny making the statement.

The church has waged an all-out campaign to rescind the decision, which they see as a first step toward a possible separation of church and state. Church leaders have staged rallies and claim to have gathered about 2.5 million signatures in a campaign to rescind the decision.

Greece's small Jewish community took offense at Christodoulos' statement and said they were one of many religious minorities, including Muslims and Roman Catholics, that applauded the government decision as a way to curb alleged discrimination. More than 97 percent of the native-born population is baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church, the official state religion.

Greece's Jewish community in thought to number less that 5,000 people. More that 90 percent of the 80,000-strong community, centered in the northern port of Thessaloniki, was killed in Nazi death camps.

Last year a string of anti-Semitic attacks was blamed on fringe groups and ultra-nationalists fired up by the church campaign. The attacks included last May's desecration of the largest Jewish cemetery in Greece.

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