Mayor Uri Lupolianski on Wednesday released a statement condemning the behavior of his haredi deputy at last week's inauguration of the Bridge of Strings, calling the aftermath an "embarrassment and insult." Lupolianski was referring to Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollack's decision to instruct a girls' dance troupe performing at the event to cover their hair and wear long clothing to conform with haredi standards of modesty. The move provoked outrage among secular residents of the city, who decried the decree as religious coercion. Critics, among them dance troupe director Shlomi Hoffman, said it was clear Lupolianski had been involved in the "extremist" decision, as reported in The Jerusalem Post last week. In addition, the Post reported on Friday that Pollack said Lupolianski had fully supported his demand. In response, Lupolianski wrote: "There are secular and religious people who with one flick of the wrist ruin all that I've personally tried to build over the last five years. They are prepared to ruin, shatter and act like a bull in a china shop. In a city with such a sensitive and complex demographic fabric, I work with tweezers [extreme care], and won't allow people who come in with a club and destroy everything. "In the last five years, no one can accuse of me of having created religious coercion or coercion of any other kind. "I think that what happened is an embarrassment and an insult. It was possible to create an event that was acceptable to both haredim and secular residents without the ridiculous hats that damaged the status quo I was protecting. Unfortunately, there is a group of extremist secular and haredi elements who together are completely irresponsibly intent on inciting the city. I am informing and promising you that in the future as well I will do my best to protect a united, sane and moderate Jerusalem, the status quo, and that I will not allow such a farce to happen again." Etgar Lefkovits contributed to this report

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