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Planned Jerusalem gay pride event sparks violent protests

Israel's attorney general ordered police on Sunday to convince organizers of a planned gay pride event in Jerusalem to make their parade more modest, or even move it out of the city, amid violent protests by religious groups.

Israel's attorney general ordered police on Sunday to convince organizers of a planned gay pride event in Jerusalem tomake their parademore modest, or even move it out of the city, amid violent protests.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews haverioted for severalnights in a rowagainst the parade, which is scheduled for Friday and expected to draw more than 8,000 participants, as well asa heavypolice presence.

Onepolice officerwas hurt when demonstrators threw rocks Saturday nightatriot police during a gathering of hundreds in the city's Orthodox neighbourhood.

Organizers have been forced to cancel the event twice in the face of protests of opposition groups, which alsoinclude Muslims and conservative Christians.

"This is not the homo land; this is the Holy Land," Orthodox Rabbi Yehuda Levin said.

Levin said he had no problem with gay people personally, but then suggested the parade be moved to what he called a more historically appropriate location.

"[If] you want to do it somewhere, do it where it was once historically done. Make your party in Sodom," he said, referring to Sodom and Gomorrah, the two biblical cities said to be destroyed by God for the sins of the inhabitants.

Parade route far from holy sites

The planned parade route runs through secular West Jerusalem, far from the Old City and its holy sites. Many Israelis, including Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, said the issue is more about respecting human rights than the risk of offending religion.

"Israel is the Holy Land, but it is also a moderate Western country," Kariv said. "And we should insist on this important combination between respect towards tradition, but also democratic values."

Organizers said they hope similar attitudes will prevail Friday.

"It's the perfect place on Earth to come here, and come out of here with the message of tolerance, pluralism and love of God for all in his or her creation," Hagai Elad, executive director of Jerusalem Open House, said.

"Jerusalem, sadly, especially in recent years, has been more associated with conflict and hatred and fear."

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