The Nazareth Magistrates Court rejected Wednesday the appeal of 16 Druze sheikhs filed against an indictment according to which they were accused of illegally entering Syria.
The sheikhs crossed into Syria via Jordan
in 2010, with the purpose, according to the defendants, of visiting relatives and the gravesite of a Muslim prophet.
"This trial is unfortunate," sheikh Ali Maadi, one of the defendants, told Ynet. "We are very close with family members in Syria, and visiting holy sites is the right of every religious person. Sheikhs should not be tried for a religious visit."
Sheikhs in court (Photo: Hassan Shaalan) Photo: Hassan Shaalan
Another defendant, Uni Qhanifes, said: "This trial is outright racist. It's impossible that we cannot stay in touch with our brothers in Syria and Lebanon
and visit our holy sites. Our fathers visited those places before the State was established.
"Regardless of the results of the trial, we will go around it. No one will stop us from staying in touch with our brethren – including the war in Syria."
According to Fuad Suid, "These indictments make no sense. This demonstrates that the State disregards the Druze community. We deserve to go to Syria and visit our relatives. State politics is trying to stop us from those visits."
Israelis are forbidden from visiting countries that have no diplomatic ties with Israel
or that constitute a threat.
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