It is not uncommon for some religious people to want to restrict the rights of people of other religions. But it always surprises me the extent to which some religious people will go to restrict the rights of other people of their own religion, usually women.
I was handcuffed, strip searched, laid on the bare floor. I was not allowed to call my lawyer. I was dragged on the floor with my hands cuffed and worse of all, locked in a tiny cell with a crying young Russian woman accused of prostitution, who was the target of every filthy comment male inmates could utter. Her tears and their words are the hardest memory for me to move on from.
I thought it was a cruel and unusual punishment, but as I found out it was cruel but not unusual. This is how arrests are done in my town, in Jerusalem.
Why this harsh treatment? As far as I can tell she was arrested because the women’s group violated some vaguely worded laws that prohibit certain practices in holy sites, such as “conducting a religious ceremony contrary to accepted practice; wearing unfit attire; peddling; conducting religious services”. Apparently leading prayers was interpreted as ‘conducting a religious ceremony’ and wearing black and white and colored prayer shawls is considered ‘unfit attire’. Interestingly, she was not charged with any offense.
Her treatment has provoked a furious response from other Jews around the world.
I suspect that the real reason for her treatment is the usual dreary one of all these fundamentalist religions, the need to put ‘uppity women’ in their place.