Sizable crowds of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protested against a big new multiplex cinema in Jerusalem that is staying open on the Sabbath, news outlets reported. Some protesters threw stones at police and broke windows during Friday night’s demonstrations in the religious, or haredi, neighborhoods of Romemah and Mea Sherarim in northern Jerusalem, far from the new cinema in Abu Tor, in the south of the city. News reports said there were “thousands” of protesters but did not provide more specific estimates.
Some protestors were arrested for attacking members of the media, the Times of Israel reported.
The 16-screen, 6-story, nearly 307,000-square-feet Yes Planet Theatre, which is owned by Cineworld, opened this week and will remain open on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday and ends at sundown Saturday. The theater and some 200 other businesses in the city are open on Shabbat despite city prohibitions. Some pay small fines. Yes Planet contends that because it is privately owned and was built on private property it should not be subject to the regulations.
Cineworld CEO Moshe Greidinger told Ynet he expected haredi Jews, who reject secular culture, to protest. “I grew up with the Jerusalem ‘Shabbat wars’ – in the end you reach a status quo and I believe it will be that way this time as well.”
In the days before the Yes Planet opened, hundreds of flyers with messages like “Shabbat in Jerusalem is in terrible danger,” “the city is being desecrated,” and “stop this plague,” were distributed throughout several of the city’s haredi neighborhoods, Israel Radio reported.