Photo: Moti Kimchi
Mahmoud Mansour and Morel Malcha's pre-wedding celebrations
Photo: Moti Kimchi
Protest against Arab-Jewish couple’s wedding to be held 200m from venue
Court discusses Mahmoud Mansour’s petition against right wing group’s protest at wedding; judge sets distance between protestors and invited guests.
Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court discussed Sunday a petition filed by Mahmoud Mansour, a Muslim Arab from Jaffa, who demanded to ban a radical right wing organization from holding a protest against his wedding tonight to Morel Malcha, a Jewish Israeli who also lives in Jaffa and had converted to Islam.



Judge Iyra Mordechai from the Rishon Lezion Magistrate Court said the protestors from the Organization for Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land (LEHAVA), could rally at a distance of 200 meters from the event itself.


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During the court hearing, the police proposed holding the protest at a parking lot south of the banquet hall, about 150-200 meters away. Itamar Ben Gvir, the attorney for the organization, is expected to arrive at the site to check whether the location is suitable for the protest.


Wedding decorations of Mahmoud Mansour's house in Jaffa (Photo: Ido Erez)  (Photo: Ido Erez)
Wedding decorations of Mahmoud Mansour's house in Jaffa (Photo: Ido Erez)


In addition, a restraining order was issued against both sides for 90 days, during which they will not be able to contact each other directly or indirectly.


Mahmoud and Morel's Pre-wedding celebration (Photo: Hassan Shaalan) n (Hassan Shaalan)
Mahmoud and Morel's Pre-wedding celebration (Photo: Hassan Shaalan) n


The police representative at the hearing, Superintendent Shir Golus, said that hundreds of officers are expected to be on duty around the venue tonight. Judge Mordechai responded, saying: “It pains me. We’re paying a lot of taxes for this protest. That’s money that could have gone towards the Iron Dome.” Lawyer Ben Gvir said in reply: “That was my claim for the pride parade.”


Ben Gvir further said, following the ruling: “This is an important victory for freedom of expression. We have taught the leftists the meaning of democracy today.”


An apolitical rally aimed to counter the LEHAVA protest is urging people to arrive at the wedding venue with flowers and signs of congratulations to show support for the couple’s choice. The initiator of the counter rally, Guy Ronen, who obtained the couple’s approval for the tribute, said: “Morel and Mahmoud are not a public institution and no one has the right to harass them.”


President Reuven Rivlin posted a condemnation against LEHAVA on his Facebook page, saying: “There’s a red line between freedom of expression and protest, and incitement. Mahmoud and Morel from Jaffa decided to get married and exercise their freedom in a democratic country. The voices of incitement against them are infuriating and worrying, regardless of my views or those of anyone else regarding the issue,” he wrote.


“Not everyone has to be happy for Mahmoud and Morel, but everyone has to respect them. There is no room for demonstrations of incitement, violence and racism in the Israeli society. Such expressions undermine the foundations of our joint life in the Jewish and democratic State of Israel. I wish the newlyweds health, calm and joy.”


During court proceedings on the couple’s petition, their lawyer, Yaniv Segev, demanded that an injunction be issued both against harassment and against the LEHAVA protest. “There is a real concern for the safety of the couple,” he said. According to him, the LEHAVA activists’ protest may become violent and racist, and may even prevent the ceremony from taking place.


Mansour said at the court session: “Arab and Jews are the same. There’s nothing better than co-existence. We live on the same street with Arabs and Jews and we all wish good morning to each other. Morel already converted to Islam a long time ago, and we have been married since Friday.


“If a Jew was marrying a Chinese woman, would they be doing the same? Is it a criminal offence to get married? I love her.”


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