Sheikh at Jewish wedding riles Muslims
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Sheikh at Jewish wedding riles Muslims

Man who posted video of spiritual leader enjoying ultra-Orthodox ceremony fined over NIS 1 million in religious court, says he fears for his life

Screenshot from a video posted to Facebook showing Bedouin sheikh Aqel Al-Atrash dancing at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish wedding. (Screen capture: Facebook)
Screenshot from a video posted to Facebook showing Bedouin sheikh Aqel Al-Atrash dancing at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish wedding. (Screen capture: Facebook)

A young Bedouin man from the Negev was fined NIS 1.2 million ($316 000) by a religious court for sharing a video of a sheikh dancing at an ultra-Orthodox wedding, thus humiliating him, Channel 2 reported.

The story reportedly began when the man, identified only as “A,” shared a video on Facebook which had been circulating for some time on social networks, in which Sheik al-Atrash was seen dancing at the wedding of ZAKA (an emergency response organization) volunteer Berale Yaakovovitch. He also gave a speech at the event in which he blessed the bride and groom on their path together.

The groom confirmed that the sheikh danced at the wedding and said he didn’t understand what the commotion was about. He added that he was happy to have the sheikh there.

But A’s post apparently led to many negative and disparaging comments against the sheikh from across the Arab world, some of which reached the man himself. Al-Atrash turned to the traditional Bedouin religious court, the “Haq al-Arab,” and sued “A” for dishonoring him.

The court slapped “A” with an NIS 1.2 million fine for allegedly hurting the sheikh’s honor, leaving him thunderstruck.

“How can it be that [for example] for a man who commits murder, the judges impose a NIS 250,000 fine, and for me the fine was like I murdered five people. I’m in shock, ” he said.

איזה ברכות ואיחולים לבערלה…

Posted by ‎מיכאל יעקובוביץ‎ on Wednesday, 22 October 2014

“It’s a clip that was on the web for a long time so I just shared it,” ‘A’ told Channel 2. “I didn’t think that it would cause such an uproar or that my life would be in danger.”

Because the father of “A” apologized to the courts, the family cannot appeal the decision and must pay the fine, the report explained.

“Where will I come up with this money? It’s true that maybe I did a dumb thing but it’s 2014 and I’m not the only one who posted the video,” “A” said.

He added that he now fears for his life and those of his family members if he does not pay.

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