More than 150 people braved an unseasonably cold spring night for an anti-racism rally on Wednesday outside the Malha mall, to express their disgust at a riot last week when Betar Jerusalem soccer fans attacked Arab cleaners. Last Monday after a game, more than 300 fans poured into the food court at the mall and chanted “death to Arabs!” and “Muhammed is dead!” and attacked a number of cleaners.
“We won’t allow people who suffered pogroms perpetrate pogroms on another nation,” Deputy Mayor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) told the crowd.
“As soon as I heard I was horrified,” City Councilor Laura Wharton, also from Meretz, told The Jerusalem Post. “It was clear to me there had to be some response both to the violence itself and the racism, and also to the very disappointing response of the police who were slow in coming and also didn’t detain a single one of the people who went on a rampage,” she said. Wharton called on the police to make an example of the fans they arrest by giving them strong punishments or even jail time.
On Sunday, six days after the riot and after widespread public outcry, police announced they were starting an investigation. An Arab cleaner at the food court said on Wednesday that it took over an hour for police to arrive during the riot after they were called. Jerusalem Police spokeswoman Shlomit Bajshi said no arrests were made because by the time police arrived the rioters had dispersed.
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