Thousands of Israeli protestors gathered on the streets of Beit Shamesh, West of Jerusalem on Tuesday evening demonstrating against ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremism that caused the harassment of an 8-year-old Jewish girl on her way to school, as well as the systematic abuse of women all over the town.
According to the BBC, protestors sprang into action following a nationwide documentary, which revealed that school girl, Naama Margolese, was terrified of walking to school. Naama said she lived in fear of being abused in the street or even being spat at by ultra-Orthodox men that have been regularly protesting outside a religious girls school about the so called ‘immodest dress’ code of the children.
Naama’s mother, Hadassah Margoleese told the BBC that the school children were having nightmares about the daily abuse. She told reporters about her daughter:
“Whenever she hears a noise she asks, ‘are they there, are they out there?’”
The ultra-Orthodox minority is seeking to segregate men and women and to enforce a strict interpretation of religious laws.
In retaliation the people of Beit Shamesh have stood together in solidarity holding signs saying “Free Israel from Religious Coercion.” Israeli President Shimon Peres is supporting the protest telling reporters:
“The entire nation must be recruited in order to save the majority from the hands of a small minority”.
He called the protest a preservation of the state of Israel’s “character against a minority which breaks our national solidarity.”