TEL AVIV – Cries of “Allahu Akbar” directed at Jews on the Temple Mount are illegal and constitutes disturbing the peace, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled.
“Israel’s past experience has shown that the chant is often used in contexts outside of prayer. Accompanying riots and occasionally leading to terrorism and violence,” the presiding judge, Shmuel Herbest, told the Hebrew language NRG news site.
The ruling harked back to an incident five years ago in which Sahar Ghazzawi fought a policeman off and broke his radio when he was escorted off the premises for yelling “Allahu Akbar” at a group of Jews on the flashpoint holy site.
Ghazzawi defended himself with the claim that he was not shouting at the Jews, rather he was saying the phrase as part of his religious ritual. He added that he struggled with the policeman because the latter refused his requests to go to the bathroom.
However, a witness testified that Ghazzawi’s chant was not a prayer but a way of goading Jews visiting the site. The report added that Ghazzawi may have been paid by the Islamist group Amarat al-Aqsa to visit the Temple Mount regularly in order to discourage Jews from coming.
According to the judge, any utterances of “Allahu Akbar” made during the proper times for prayer at a holy site constitutes a fundamental right. But when such chants are misappropriated in the context of riots or protest, they are considered a clear violation of peace.
Herbest added that this issue is particularly acute on the Temple Mount – the site of frequent clashes in Jerusalem – and that any attempts at provocations will be judged harshly.
The judge also said that Muslims are able to exercise far more rights – including prayer, study, and free access to the complex – on the Temple Mount than members of any other religion.
“All [Ghazzawi] needed to do, then, was exercise his fundamental rights without harming the rights of other faiths. But he did not choose to do so,” Herbest said.
Soon after the ongoing wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis kicked off in September of last year, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Jews “have no right to defile [the al-Aqsa Mosque] with their filthy feet.”