Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen (R) and J'lem Police Chief Aharon Franco
Photo: Guy Assayag
MK Zahalka (L) and MK Tibi
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

Arabs angered by Franco's remarks

MK Zahalka calls for dismissal of J'lem police chief following his comments that 'Arabs ungrateful', MK Tibi says, 'Police hurting freedom of religion'

The Arab public was enraged Monday by remarks made by Jerusalem District Police Commander Aharon Franco, who, following recent riots at the Temple Mount say "Arabs are ungrateful". Arab leaders accused France of restricting freedom of religion under the patronage of the police.


MK Ahmad Tibi said, "The district commander should take a course in democracy and values of equality…Not all Jews are smart.


"The Israel Police is hurting the Muslim's freedom of religion and restricting prayer to over the age of 50. God himself did not set such a restriction. Even the occupation authorities must allow the freedom of worship."


Regarding Franco's comments, Tibi said, "We don't need any favors. What is needed is that you and your friends uphold your duty to us as citizens and as people. Once a minister calls us 'Araboosh' (derogatory term for Arabs) and now this one calls us ingrates. To think these are the people responsible for upholding the law and public order."


Balad Faction Chairman MK Jamal Zahalka called for Franco to be fired. According to MK Zahalka, "If he has no genuine respect for the freedom of worship, he must leave."


"His excellency Franco has become the lord that allows freedom of worship to the people. Al-Aqsa is a holy site for Muslims, and Franco's presence along with his people is a gross insult to the holiness of the site," added MK Zahalka.


MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List – Ta'al) also demanded Franco resign, saying, "The district commander has caught a virus even worse than the swine flu – the 'racism flu' and hatred of Arabs. The Arabs are not asking for charity or favors, they were rightfully in Jerusalem before he even dreamt of being there. It is his responsibility to ensure the right of worship to all denominations."


After a relatively quiet morning at the Temple Mount, it seems Franco's statement is only faming the flames. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee on Monday decided to go to Jerusalem on Tuesday to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque.


"It can't be that a police commander in Israel makes such statements. The mosque should be open not only during Ramadan; he is not doing us any favors. It's our religious right that no one can deprive us of," the committee's chairman Muhammad Zidan said.


Zidan expresses concern of an escalation in the situation, "I fear the events of 2000 may be repeated, and I hope that the government is responsible enough to make the decision to allow Muslims to enter the Temple Mount as usual, and not continue to deny entry. Denying entry is a dangerous thing that will lead to a disaster."


פרסום ראשון: 10.05.09, 14:04
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