Jerusalem – Scuffle Breaks Out at Protest for Segregated Buses

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Jerusalem – A small scuffle broke out on this afternoon between ultra-Orthodox (haredi) and secular Jews in Jerusalem’s Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood.

More than 2,000 haredim had gathered for a demonstration demanding that Egged and the Transportation Ministry arrange bus lines that segregate men and women in areas where the majority of residents are ultra-Orthodox.

Some of the haredim spat at the secular Jews who were holding a counter-protest and grabbed some of the signs they were holding. No one was wounded.

The protestors gathered at the site of the 2003 suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus.
Organizers said that the Orthodox public feels there is a connection between the problem of “immodesty” on buses and the attack.

The rally, which was held under the slogan “Traveling the right way,” featured the reading of psalms and prayers in memory of the attack victims. Organizers distributed leaflets addressing the importance of the struggle for segregation aboard buses in more neighborhoods in the capital, while rabbis and Orthodox public officials delivered speeches.

The demonstration was also attended by two Egged drivers wearing their uniforms. The two said they support the struggle, but added that it was the Transportation Ministry which was blocking the introduction of more segregated buses, while waiting for the High Court to rule on the matter.

Municipal official Rachel Azaria, who protested against the segregated bus lines, said: As a religious woman, I came to make sure that the public space remains pleasant for everyone. As one who grew up in Jerusalem and has no intention of leaving it, I care about what this city is like.”

“The Orthodox are very good at pressing Egged and when it introduces new segregated lines, the service in the regular lines is undermined,” she said. “I don’t force anyone to sit next to me on the bus, and everyone can decide on their own segregation and who they wish to sit next to. Yet nobody should decide for us how to travel on buses.”


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