Thousands turned out to support a rally against Jewish religious extremism in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh on Tuesday night.
The peaceful protest, supported by Israel’s President Shimon Peres, is in response to a spate of incidents in the city west of Jerusalem, where ultra-orthodox Jews are trying to get residents to become more conservative.
Speaking from the rally, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said: “We are fighting for the image of the state of Israel. It’s not just Beit Shemesh and not just gender segregation, it’s all the extremist elements that are rearing their heads and are trying to impose their world view on us.”
The movement was sparked by alleged abuse suffered by an eight-year old school girl who claims she was spat at by ultra-orthodox Jews for dressing ‘immodestly’.
Those at the rally are also against attempts to introduce gender segregation, including women having to sit at the back of buses, which the ultra-orthodox Jews support.
Earlier in the day, the president called on all Israelis to support the rally, saying these kind of rules have no place in a secular state.