Ultra-Orthodox Israelis stage protest

Ultra-Orthodox Israelis stage protest

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews have taken to streets in al-Quds (Jerusalem) to protest a court ruling that bans segregation of a religious girls' school.

The protest erupted after dozens of Ashkenazi parents of European descent were arrested for refusing to send their daughters to school with Sephardic girls of Middle East origin.

Around 100,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews with trademark black, wide-brimmed hats waved posters decrying the ruling of Supreme Court.

"The Supreme Court is fascist," said one poster, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The Ashkenazi parents claimed that the families of the Sephardic girls aren't religious enough.

However, Israel's Supreme Court denied the claim and decided to jail some 80 Ashkenazi parents who had refused to comply with the integration efforts by keeping their daughters from school.

Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld estimated that about 100,000 people rallied in downtown al-Quds against the court ruling. Some 10,000 police officers were deployed in the scene of protest, he added.

Nissim Zeev, a lawmaker from the Orthodox Sephardic political Party Shas, also rejected Ashkenazi parents' argument, saying that the Sephardic girls had the right to choose to attend a mixed school.

"Everyone wants to send their children to Ashkenazi schools," said a Sephardic father of nine.

"The quality of the Ashkenazi schools is much higher. They are stronger politically, so they get more money."

Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have called for calm.

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