Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not To Be Outdone by the Muslims; Ultra-Orthodox Jews Prove they too can be jerks

Shaking as she recalled her brutal beating at the hands of Jewish ultra-Orthodox vigilantes, a 28-year-old Jerusalem woman who would only identify herself as M. said she feared for her life.

Some residents say the self-styled "modesty squads" are spreading terror among those seen as straying from the strict moral code demanded of the ultra-Orthodox in the more conservative neighbourhoods of the Holy City.

There life revolves largely around the study of holy texts and a strict dress code that has men sporting black coats and wide-brimmed hats and women covering their heads, arms and legs.

Two weeks ago police arrested two alleged members of a modesty patrol accused of brutally beating M.

The gang allegedly gagged her, hit her, kicked her and said she would be killed if she did not move out of the ultra-Orthodox Maalot Dafna neighbourhood.

"They beat me up, tied me up and threatened to kill me," M. said, holding back her tears. "Who will prevent them from killing me?"

Neighbours had complained of what they called the divorcee's "indecent" lifestyle, which in such neighbourhoods can mean anything from wearing trousers to meeting men in private.

"I don't know why I was treated this way. What has my life got to do with those guys," said M., who until three years ago was married to a Haredi -- a word used to describe the most theologically conservative form of Judaism.

Police have also detained a man accused of torching a store in an ultra-Orthodox district that sold what some residents considered "immoral" clothing.

In Mea Shearim, a Haredi bastion where streets are sealed off for the Jewish day of rest and satellite dishes are considered a sign of heresy, an electronics store has become the latest target of the morality squads.

A young man, sporting the distinctive Haredi sidecurls, beard, black garb and hat, stood outside the store handing out pamphlets.

He said the store was threatening the morals of the community by selling MP4 players that would allow buyers to view indecent movies in their homes.

Of course there is more.

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