High Court petition demands allowing anti-war rallies in Arab towns

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

The head of the the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, Muhammed Barakeh, files a petition to the High Court of Justice against the police, demanding it cease implementing what the petition describes as a blanket ban on anti-war demonstrations in Arab-majority towns.

The petition, filed by the Adalah legal aid organization, points out that the police have repeatedly refused to allow anti-war demonstrations in a public square in Nazareth,.

The petition is filed following the rejection last week of another request for a permit for an anti-war protest in the town.

An anti-war protest was ultimately authorized in Tel Aviv two weeks ago after another petition to the High Court pressured the police to issue it with a permit.

“The harm to freedom of expression and protest… contravenes not only police regulations but those of the attorney general regarding public demonstrations,” says Adalah after filing the petition.

The decisions by the police, the State Attorney’s Office and the High Court “have created a space for blanket racist policies which block freedom of protest only in Arab towns,” says Dr. Souhad Bishara of Adalah.

“Unfortunately, the State Attorney’s Office and the attorney general are not fulfilling their roles as gatekeepers [on respecting human rights] and the High Court has sufficed itself until now with general statements without effectively intervening to protect the fundamental right to freedom of expression of Arab citizens, which we are demanding right now,” says Bishara.

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