National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir says the police have to ensure the rights and “free speech” of those holding a counter-protest against today’s Jerusalem Pride Parade.
“The job of the police is first and foremost to protect the marchers. In addition, the police force has to do all it can to allow the counter-protesters to exercise their freedom of speech and protest,” says Ben Gvir.
“These are fundamental rights in a democracy and must be protected. People must not be turned away or detained solely because of their religious appearance or their intention to demonstrate against the parade,” he says.
Ben Gvir announces his intention to be present at the police command center despite calls from Pride organizers for the far-right minister to stay away from the event given his past support for anti-LGBTQ groups.
Unlike its Tel Aviv counterpart, the Jerusalem Pride Parade is the subject of heavy security and restrictions after an ultra-Orthodox extremist, Yishai Schlissel, stabbed teenage marcher Shira Banki to death at the parade in 2015. Schlissel carried out the attack just a few weeks after he was released from prison after serving 10 years for stabbing and injuring marchers at the 2005 parade. He is currently serving life in prison.