Police remove a man from the protest scene in the capital yesterday..
(photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
Ultra-Orthodox men clashed with police in a secular area of the capital on Saturday afternoon, not far from the haredi Mea She’arim neighborhood, during a counter-protest to a nearby demonstration against religious coercion.
At 5 p.m., a group of dozens of secular protesters gathered at the intersection of Hanevi’im and Dvora Hanevi’a streets.
Around a hundred mostly-male haredim, including adults and children, soon arrived.
Over the years, such gatherings of ultra-Orthodox men on Saturday afternoon in a non-haredi area have been dubbed the “Shabbat protests.”
Haredim shouted at the secular demonstrators: “Go away, leave Israel,” and, “Go die with Arabs, you leftists.” Some children threw small rocks and other objects at protesters until the police showed up.
One ultra-Orthodox man approached a secular protester who was filming the event and appeared ready to assault him.
Police detained him, released him, and ordered him to stay away from the protest scene.
Later on, two haredi men who refused to leave the area as they were told by police, were also detained, released him, and ordered to stay away, Haredi protesters shouted at police officers and called them Nazis.
This is the third consecutive Saturday that secular residents of Jerusalem have held a demonstration against religious coercion.
Liam Bachar, one of the organizers of the demonstrations, told The Jerusalem Post
that in recent months ultra-Orthodox men are harassing secular people during Shabbat, and he and his friends could not remain silent anymore.
“They are going to restaurants and convenience stores to shout at customers and ruin their day off,” said Bachar, 22, a resident of the Beit Hakerem neighborhood.
“They are trying to take over our [secular] public areas, and we are standing here in order to block them from marching down to restaurants and bars,” he added.
During the protests, no physical clashes between secular and ultra-Orthodox attendees were reported.
Across the street, a young man from the Toldos Avrum-Yitzhok Hassidic community, who preferred to stay anonymous, told the Post that not all haredim support these “Shabbat protests.”
“Most of our rabbis – even the ones whom secular Jews would call extremists – are against this. No one would approve throwing rocks or saying curse words,” he said.
“But also these provocations by the seculars are harming the delicate relations between us and them,” he added.