State indicts 4 Betar J'lem fans for racist chants

Soccer team's fans charged with calling “death to Arabs” and “burn down their village,” at match after Muslim players joined club.

February 7, 2013 18:57
3 minute read.
Betar Jerusalem fans during match against Maccabi Umm el-Fahm, January 29, 2013.

Betar Jerusalem fans 370. (photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)


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The Jerusalem District Attorney on Thursday filed two indictments in the magistrate’s court against four Betar Jerusalem fans for making racist statements against Arabs and Muslims, including new players that had joined the team.

A statement released by the state said that the first indictment was submitted against three fans: Menashe Eliyahu Mani, Lior Shimon Danino and another fan.

The fans are residents of Holon and Jerusalem and are aged 22 to 24.

The statement also said that the indictment alleged that during the January 26 Betar Jerusalem-Bnei Yehuda game, the defendants wanted to show opposition to bringing two Muslim players to the team from Chechnya.

During the game, the defendants called out in public “death to Arabs,” according to the statement’s discussing of the indictment.

Next, the statement indicated that the indictment alleged that Mani called out in public to “burn their village.”

The second indictment was filed against another Betar Jerusalem fan, age 23, also residing in Jerusalem.

According to the press release, the indictment said that on January 31, the defendant arrived at the soccer field in Bayit Vegan during a team soccer practice.

This was the first soccer practice in which the two new Muslim players participated, said the statement.

The statement alleged that the defendant arrived with 20 to 30 other fans who were also against the new players joining the team because of their race.

Throughout the practice, they called out “disgraceful insults” against the team’s owners, the team’s chairman, the coach and the new players, the statement said.

The statement said that the defendant was wearing a shirt that read, “L.F. Death to Muhammad. 100% opposed.”

Also, the statement alleged that the defendant drew racist caricatures on his shirt.

In addition, noted the statement, the defendant waved a sign with a picture of Nadallah, a former Betar player of Muslim descent, and his statement in an interview that “I wouldn’t recommend for a Muslim to join Betar. The extremists won’t change.”

The indictments themselves were not provided at press time as some of the defendants still had not been reached by the State Attorney’s Office, which has a policy not to distribute indictments publicly until they reach defendants.

However, because of “the great importance” of the indictments to the public, the state said it “rushed submitting the indictments” and immediately made their contents public through the statement.

All of this is part of the state’s “fight against violence and racism in sports,” said the statement.

While not part of the indictments, related incidents from the same series of events described above included a fan throwing rocks at the players’ cars, another climbed a fence and attacked a guard, and a third tried to break into the car of Betar chairman Itzik Kornfein, police said.

Betar fans are furious over owner Arkadi Gaydamak’s announcement that the club has signed two Muslim players, Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev, from the Chechnyan team Terek Grozny. During the January 26 game against Bnei Yehuda, fans raised an enormous banner that read “Betar pure forever” and sang anti-Arab chants.

Police had arrested more than a dozen people involved in the incident with the banner.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court barred the entrance of 50 Betar fans to a match against Umm el-Fahm after the incident. In addition to those barred from that game, all of the fans arrested have been banned from attending soccer games for the rest of the season and ordered to pay a fine of at least NIS 1,000.

Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.

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