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Arab man, Jewish-born bride hold wedding reception despite protests

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab man and his Jewish-born bride held their wedding reception despite hundreds of protesters outside the banquet hall.

Hours before the wedding on Sunday evening, the Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court ruled that the Organization for Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land, or Lehava, could hold a protest no closer than 200 meters — slightly more than the size of two football fields combined — to the venue.  Hundreds of police secured the wedding as security guards checked the invitations of the some 600 guests.

Four people were arrested outside the wedding for violating the restraining order.

Meanwhile, counterdemonstrators brought balloons and flowers to celebrate the union.

Mahmoud Mansour, who is Muslim, and Morel Malka, who was born Jewish but recently converted to Islam, were required to hire 14 security guards for their wedding reception after Lehava posted photographs of their invitation on social media and urged protesters to rally against the union outside the hall.

The groom’s parents and bride’s mother reportedly support the union. The bride’s father told Israeli media he would boycott the celebration.

In a Facebook post, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin offered the couple traditional wedding blessings of health and happiness.

He wrote: “There is a red line between freedom of speech and protest on the one hand and incitement on the other. Mahmoud and Morel from Jaffa have decided to marry and to exercise their freedom in a democratic country. The manifestations of incitement against them are infuriating and distressing, whatever my opinion or anyone else’s might be regarding the issue itself.

“Not everyone has to share in the happiness of Mahmoud and Morel — but everyone has to respect them. Among us and within our midst there are harsh and sharp disagreements, but incitement, violence and racism have no place in Israeli society. ”

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