Friday, June 18, 2010

Orthodox Jews in jail for demo

JERUSALEM - DOZENS of ultra-Orthodox Jewish fathers were on Friday spending their first morning in jail for defying a school integration ruling by Israel's supreme court, a day after massive protests.

But 22 mothers of pupils at an ultra-Orthodox girls' school in a West Bank settlement were given a stay of arrest while the court met on Friday morning to hear a plea to let them stay at home to care for their young families.

'We shall wait for the court's decision before taking any action,' police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

Israeli media said that some of the mothers were pregnant, while others had children with special needs. Ultra-Orthodox families generally have large families, far above the average of the secular Israeli population.

The media said a confrontation with the parents' many supporters was likely if police sought to arrest the women.

Around 100,000 angry ultra-Orthodox Jews rallied in Jerusalem on Thursday in protest at the court's decision to jail a group of parents of European origin, or Ashkenazis, for refusing to send their daughters to a school with Jewish girls whose families originate from Arab countries, known as Sephardis. The parents say their stance is not based on racism or ethnicity, but is about differences in religious observance between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions. -- AFP

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