A Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge ruled that Shouting “Allahu akbar” – Arabic for “god is greater” – at non-Muslims on the Temple Mount constitutes a disturbance of the peace.
From experience it is known that shouting the chant other than in times of prayer is often used during riots and usually accompanies violence and terrorism. This was the summary of the ruling of the Jerusalem magistrate when he declared that yelling “Allahu akbar” at non-Muslims on the Temple Mount is now illegal.
The ruling came at the end of a five-year-old case involving Sahar Ghazzawi, an Arab detained by police after he yelled “Allahu akbar” at a group of Jews on the Temple Mount. While being escorted away from the area, he began to resist and attacked a policeman pushing him to the ground and breaking his radio. Ghazzawi was then indicted for interfering with a policeman in the exercise of his duties.
Ghazzawi claimed that he had merely made religious utterances as part of his worship. He also claimed that the reason he pushed the police officer was because the policeman refused to let him go to the bathroom.
According to witnesses Ghazzawi had not been saying “Allahu akbar” while praying, but as intimidation against Jews visiting the site. It emerged that Gazawi regularly visited the Temple Mount confronting Jews but would not admit that his activities were sponsored by “Amrat al Aqsa,” an Islamist group 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 appropriate spot during prayer, does not constitute a breach of the peace. However, when those calls are used during demonstration or protest, creating a riot or unrest, they do not constitute prayers and are a clear disturbance of the peace.” This is particularly true of the politically charged and sensitive Temple Mount. Any attempt to inflame the atmosphere can be considered a provocation.
The judge highlighted the fact that Muslims have more rights on the Temple Mount than members of other religions. “All he had to do was exercise those basic rights without hurting the rights of visitors of other faiths.”
At the beginning of the “Intifada of the Knives”, that has rocked Israel since September 2015, PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared: “Al-Aqsa is ours… and 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.”