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article imageUltra-orthodox Jews riot over gender segregation

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By Katerina Nikolas     Dec 27, 2011 in Religion
The campaign by a fringe element of ultra-Orthodox Haredim Jews to enforce strict segregation of the sexes erupted in violence in the Israeli town of Beth Shemesh.
Violence erupted in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh on Monday as ultra-Orthodox Haredim Jews clashed with police over the Haredim campaign to impose strict gender segregation. A radical fringe of around 10 percent of Haredim have wagered a discriminatory campaign that seeks to shut women out of the public domain, dress modestly, and makes them sit at the back of buses.
The Haredim have installed signs in Beit Shemesh ordering the sexes to be segregated. Authorities have reacted by saying they will install security cameras in the town "in an attempt to fight radical religious individuals who are harassing women and girls."
Violence began to brew when an eight-year-old Naama Margolis was spat on by a Haredim who accused her of dressing immodestly. The child's mother told Ynet "The exclusion of women from the public sphere makes my blood boil. They (haredim) are trying to take us back to dark eras; this is a grave injustice."
As police attempted to remove the signs demanding segregation the Haredim reacted violently, pelting police with eggs and stones, setting rubbish bins on fire, and attacking a camera crew that was filming events,the BBC reported.
The segregation policy contravenes the Israeli army regulations that compel both sexes to serve without discrimination. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is opposed to the objectives of the radical ultra-Orthodox Jews, saying discrimination and harassment have no place in a modern society.
Alarabiya cites Israeli newspaper Maariv as saying the problems stem from "people who do not regard the state laws as the source of authority but rather rely on their various rabbis and peculiar divine voices in their heads. This is a culture war, no less.”
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