Israeli Druze Protest Indictments

Article Summary
The Sixteen Arab-Druze clerics from Israel who were recently indicted for visiting “hostile countries” boycotted their court hearing this week. The clerics say that banning them from visiting their holy sites in Lebanon and Syria is a violation of their rights. 

Arab Druze clerics in Israel boycotted an Israeli court hearing [June 20] that was supposed to consider the indictments against 16 of them. Druze Knesset MP Saeed Nafa was among the 16 clerics who were indicted for visiting “a hostile country.” This is a reference to their visits to Druze holy places in Syria and Lebanon in 2007 and 2010. The “accused” clerics refused to attend the court session and headed with dozens of other clerics, who declared their solidarity with them, to the shrine of Prophet Shoaib in Hittin to stage a protest. This move forced the court to postpone its session till next month.

Dozens of activists among the national forces and the Druze Communication Committee staged a demonstration outside the court in solidarity with the accused clerics. The demonstrators raised banners that condemned the trial and emphasized on the right of communication with the Arab nation. They also stressed that visiting holy sites is a “human, religious and national right.”

Regarding the protest, the chairman of the Communication Committee, Sheikh Awni Khunayfis, told media outlets: “Clerics went to the holy sites and not to the court to announce our rejection of the arbitrary trial because we did not commit any offense. We had visited our people and these visits are approved by all heavenly religions and international humanitarian law... Communication is a human and religious right that no one can deprive us of.”

The local Druze authorities also announced a general strike in solidarity with the defendants. The different political figures that are active among the Druze community issued a joint statement with the spiritual leader of the Druze community, Sheikh Muwaffaq Tarif. The statement urged the government to repeal all indictments against the clerics and MP Saeed Nafa immediately since they are “a provocation to the Druze community and a violation of their religious and humanitarian rights.” It is also a “desperate attempt to prevent members of the Bani Marouf community from communicating with each other and from visiting their religious shrines.”

Found in: saeed nafa, israeli druze, druze holy sites, druze

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