Jerusalem Judge Rules: Shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ at Non-Muslims on Temple Mount Constitutes Illegal Disturbance of Peace
Shouting “Allahu akbar” – Arabic for “God is great” — at Jews on the Temple Mount is illegal and constitutes a disturbance of the peace, a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge ruled, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Sunday.
“Past experience in Israel has taught us that the commonly used chant for something other than prayer often accompanies riots and sometimes leads to physical violence and terrorism,” the judge said.
The ruling was about a five-year-old case involving Sahar Ghazzawi, an Arab who was detained by police after he yelled “Allahu akbar” at a group of Jews on the holy site. As he was being escorted away from the area, he began to flail his arms and resist, pushing a policeman to the ground and breaking his walkie-talkie. Ghazzawi was then indicted for interfering with the duty of a policeman.
In his defense, Ghazzawi claimed that he had not disturbed the peace, but was merely making religious utterances at the holy site as part of his ritual behavior. He also claimed that the reason he pushed the police officer was because the latter refused to let him go to the bathroom.
According to witness testimony at the hearing, Ghazzawi had not been saying “Allahu akbar” while praying, but rather as a form of intimidation against Jews visiting the site. In addition, during cross-examination, it emerged that Gazawi regularly visited the Temple Mount – but skirted the question of whether his trips there were sponsored by the Islamist group “Amrat al Aqsa,” which pays activists to harass non-Muslims on the site.
The judge ruled that chanting “Allahu akbar during prayer, at a site of prayer and in the spot in the prayer [book] where it is called for does not constitute a breach of the peace, but a fundamental right. However, when those calls are used as a form of demonstration or protest, or as a way of creating a riot or unrest, they do not constitute prayers and are therefore a clear disturbance of the peace.” This, he said, is particularly true of the politically charged and sensitive Temple Mount, which is at the center of controversy and conflict between peoples and religions. And any attempt to inflame the atmosphere can be considered a provocation.
In the verdict against Ghazzawi, the judge highlighted the fact that Muslims have more rights on the Temple Mount than members of other religions. “All he had to do, then, was exercise those basic rights without hurting the lesser rights of other faiths. But he chose not to do so.”
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. It is where the Al Aqsa Mosque is situated, a place that is used by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to incite violence against non-Muslims, particularly Israeli Jews, who are often accused of trying to storm the Muslim house of prayer.
In September 2015, the beginning of the surge in terrorism that has rocked Israel ever since, PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared: “The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they [the Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”