The father of a teen murdered by an ultra-Orthodox extremist at the 2015 Jerusalem Pride Parade condemned threats referencing his daughter’s killing that were made against an organizer of this year’s march, along with lawmakers who plan to attend.
“We will not allow the Pride Parade to take place in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the Holy City. Shira Banki’s fate awaits you,” read the message sent to Jerusalem Open House community director Emuna Klein Barnoy.
The message was also sent to MKs Gilad Kariv (Labor), Naama Lazimi (Labor) and Eitan Ginzburg (Blue and White).
Late Wednesday, police said they had arrested a man in his 20s suspected of sending the threats. The man, a Jerusalem resident, was not identified. He will be brought before a court in the city on Thursday to have his remand extended.
Ori Banki called the threats “terribly sad” and “a waste,” but acknowledged that it’s “legitimate” for people to oppose the rally. “I think otherwise… I thought that way before Shira was murdered, and I think that way now,” he told the Kan public broadcaster.
“It’s a public space, and it’s a public space for everyone,” he noted, adding that while he understood the challenges faced by police due to the threats, “we need to allow the march.”
The threatening messages were sent on Facebook and Twitter from an account under the name of “The brothers of Yishai Schlissel,” according to the network.
Schlissel stabbed 16-year-old Banki to death during the 2015 parade just three weeks after he was released from prison where he served an eight-year sentence for a stabbing attack at the same march 10 years earlier.
When asked why his daughter decided to join the march seven years ago, Banki said “Shira was a young politically conscious girl.” He said she participated in many pride rallies because advancing LGBTQ rights was an “important goal” for her.
Addressing the cancellation of a pride march in the southern city of Netivot, due to bullets sent to the mother of one of the organizers, Banki lamented that such violent threats had managed to achieve their goal.
Nonetheless, Banki insisted that Israeli society was becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community.
“Ten years ago, nobody would have thought of doing a pride parade in Netivot… This year, people sought to do so, and although it wasn’t carried out… I think in another five years they will march there,” he said.
Pride marches are held annually in several locations across the country. Tel Aviv puts on the largest pride, with tens of thousands typically attending. It is scheduled to take place this year on June 10.
All of the events are held under heavy security, particularly Jerusalem Pride where last year some 7,500 people marched with more than 3,000 police officers securing the event. Each parade in the capital has featured a vocal far-right, counter-protest.