Following HaMoked's intervention: a notice forbidding Palestinians from praying in the East Jerusalem office of the Interior Ministry, has been removed המוקד להגנת הפרט
27.03.2011
Following HaMoked's intervention: a notice forbidding Palestinians from praying in the East Jerusalem office of the Interior Ministry, has been removed
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To recall, the following notice – in Arabic only - had been hanging in the East Jerusalem branch office of the Interior Ministry:

To all visitors, please do not perform the duty of prayer during your stay in the office premises. And "with apologies"

On March 15, 2011, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, called on the Interior Ministry to revoke the ban on Muslim prayer on the premises.  HaMoked claimed that the ban on prayer in the governmental office severely impedes the ability of applicants who arrive at the office to fulfill their guaranteed freedom of religion and worship, which is a basic human right. HaMoked added that freedom of religion is a fundamental principle of the constitutional system of Israel and is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, and the fact that the notice appeared in Arabic only, raised serious concerns of forbidden religious discrimination.   

After two days, HaMoked received the reply of Ms. Hagit Weiss, Director of the Regional Population Administration Bureau in East Jerusalem. Oddly, the ministerial representative states that the notice "was written in consideration those wishing to pray, to allow them to perform the rite in a dignified manner […]". Weiss adds that the Interior Ministry does not forbid prayer and never has any person been disturbed during prayer, nonetheless "prayer is impossible inside the building, in areas used as passageways for the public, given that usually people pass through there".

HaMoked contacted the Interior Ministry once more, claiming that if the notice was intended to forbid prayer in the passageways, it should state so clearly, and also specify in which areas the prayer would not disturb passers-by, and still be performed in a dignified manner.

When HaAretz newspaper requested a response on the matter, the Ministry altered its reply: "The notice is a small sign which was apparently hung in the past, and did not form any official instruction on our part". The Ministry went on to claim: "after it was brought to our attention, it was removed ".

As stated, several days after HaMoked's appeal, the notice was removed from the wall of the Interior Ministry office.
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