Jerusalem annual gay pride parade.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
While Jerusalem’s LGBT Pride Parade Thursday caused traffic jams across central Jerusalem, the 300,000 Arabs living on the east, north and south sides of the city were indifferent to the festivities.
The Damascus Gate was calm as vendors sold seasonal lychee and cactus fruit, and a contingent of police munched on falafel.
According to Ibrahim Nouri, a restaurant worker in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, “Most people around here don’t even know about the parade.”
A gathering of Arab men drinking tea after midday prayers had not heard about the LGBT march but disagreed with the idea in principle.
“I am against this type of parade as our religion does not approve of homosexuality,” stated Maher Salem who practices law in east Jerusalem.
Abdullah al-Masri, a shop owner near Damascus Gate, expressed indifference. “The gay community is free to buy from my store. But I would not want a [LGBT] parade to come through here. It would cause too much conflict.”
Masri mused that one of the few things the religious Jewish and Muslim communities agree upon is their opposition to the Jerusalem pride march.
“We disagree on most things, but on this issue there is probably common ground,” he remarked.
East Jerusalem-based al-Qaws (Arabic for “the rainbow”) is a Palestinian NGO supporting LGBT Palestinians.
According to its website, al-Qaws works to “collaboratively to transform Palestinian society’s perspectives on gender and sexual diversity, homosexuality and LGBT issues, and to struggle for broader social justice.” Al-Qaws has hosted a number of LGBT Palestinian events in Jerusalem, including drag queen shows.
An al-Qaws representative declined to comment for this article. The group boycotted the May 29 Tel Aviv LGBT pride parade, and did not issue a statement about the Jerusalem LGBT pride parade.