After rioting engulfed the Temple Mount on Sunday, the Ninth of Av, a traditional day of mourning in Judaism, some have said the riots were instigated by a Jewish visitor to the Temple Mount who was shown on camera saying "Mohammad is a pig." What would drive someone to make a statement like this?
In a video that has gone viral in the Arab media, 20-year-old Avia Morris is shown with her husband and child as they made their way Thursday through the Old City in Jerusalem following a visit to the Temple Mount while a group of women wearing hijabs taunt the group nonstop in Arabic.
Morris spoke with The Jerusalem Post
to explain in her own words what happened.
"For the entire 40 minute walk through the Old City to the Temple Mount, a group of Arab women followed us yelling Allah Akbar
and Itbach al-Yahud
[Kill the Jews in Arabic], as well as a number of curse words," she said. "We asked the police to keep them further away but they did not stop them. Instead, they let the women continue insult the Jewish faith and the Jewish people in our holiest place in the world."
Morris with her husband and daughter at the Temple Mount.
[photo credit: Courtesy]
Morris knew that she would be arrested immediately if she said anything while on the Temple Mount itself, so she remained stoic along with the rest in the group. However, the same group of women returned as soon as the group left the Temple Mount. Morris said she could no longer stay quiet as they continued their taunts and even made the symbol of Islamic State.
"By that point, I felt if I continued to stay quiet and if we continue to hide our heads, we would be like the Jews in exile who are afraid of non Jews and that aren't able to fight back. So I decided that it would be a disgrace to not say something back so I said 'Muhammad is a pig'... and after that, they were finally moved away from us."
On Friday afternoon, the day after the incident, police showed up at Morris's home and arrested her, only hours before the beginning of Shabbat, for allegedly inciting violence and for making an insult to a religious sentiment. She was released on the condition that she maintain a certain distance from the Old City for a week.
Following the incident and the posting of the video, commenters on Facebook went wild, supporting the taunting Muslim women and worst of all, called for Morris and her one-year-old daughter to be murdered. She said that police have not arrested nor taken action against any of these people.
Morris attempted to file a complaint with police following the death threats, but was told she cannot since it must be filed at the police station located in the Old City, from which she is forbidden to enter for the next week. Morris said police brushed off the matter. "They told me 'Fine, so next week [you'll file the complaint]." And in the meantime, while I wasn't able to filed a complaint, a complaint was filed against me and they arrested me."
"So this is not discrimination on the Temple Mount? That the Arab women can do whatever they want and we can't even whisper under our breath or respond in any sort of way? And the police aren't even letting me file a complaint over people threatening murder?"
Morris went on to say that she does not encourage others to get arrested and therefore did not recommend that others copy what she did, though there was already a copycat
. However, she said that the police and the entire nation needs to hear her message. She added that her response was minor compared to the discrimination that Jews go through at the Temple Mount and "the desecration that is going on at the location of the Temple."
"The state and the Jewish people are the ones that need to stand up. I think that it is very frightening that Jews are not responding to this discrimination and desecration to God's name that is taking place. But the main fault lies with the police."
On previous occasions, Morris said, the groups of Arab women that regularly taunt Jewish groups mainly left them alone and past visits have been quiet. Still, she noted that small responses like hers are unlikely to change the situation, though noted that the subject continues to become part of the public awareness the more it is covered in the media.
Talking about future visits, she said that she hopes things will be different next time.
"I hope that I will not have to hide my head, that Jews will not continue to be degraded and that the place of the Temple will not continue to be degraded. I hope there will be another solution that is more effective. The Jewish people need to set things straight and remove rioters from the Temple Mount.