HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual in a call to the Interior Ministry: the ban on Muslim prayer in the East Jerusalem office of the Interior Ministry must be cancelled המוקד להגנת הפרט
15.03.2011
HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual in a call to the Interior Ministry: the ban on Muslim prayer in the East Jerusalem office of the Interior Ministry must be cancelled
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The following notice – in Arabic only - has been hanging for over a year in the Interior Ministry's East Jerusalem branch office

“To all visitors, please do not perform the duty of prayer while on the office premises. And "with apologies"

The ban on prayer in the government office severely impedes the ability of the applicants who arrive at the premises and must often remain there for hours, to fulfill their guaranteed freedom of religion and worship through prayer. Prayer is a fundamental act of religious worship. The freedom of worship, as an expression of religious freedom, is one of the basic human rights, and is linked at the core to the personal expression of the individual. Freedom of religion is a basic principle in the constitutional system of the state of Israel and is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which guarantees freedom of religion and of conscience. The right to commune with one's God and observe the daily prayers is also guaranteed by Israeli legislation, in the Hours of Work and Rest Law 5711-1951.

Moreover, the fact that the notice appears in Arabic only, raises serious concerns of forbidden religious discrimination: Are only Arabic speakers prohibited from praying in the governmental branch office? Would a Jewish applicant be prohibited from praying there at the hour of prayer? And do other governmental branch offices – serving mainly a Jewish public – carry a similar instruction to ban prayer "on the office premises"?

HaMoked condemns the blatant violation of the basic rights of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and demands to have the notice removed and the unacceptable practice canceled immediately.
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