Ban on cursing Mohammed sought


An Israeli Arab lawmaker wants to criminalize public cursing of the Prophet Mohammed.

Ibrahim Sarsour, an Islamist who heads the United Arab List faction in the Knesset, said this week he is preparing legislation that would impose a three-year prison sentence and $25,000 fine on those found to have desecrated Mohammed’s memory or other concepts that Muslims consider sacred.

The bill was inspired by a recent soccer game at which fans of the Betar Jerusalem team, which is closely identified with the Israeli right wing, mocked Arab rivals with catcalls about Mohammed.

“I felt an earthquake inside me,” Sarsour told Ma’ariv. “Such behavior should cause offense to those of any faith, and I intend to ask lawmakers who are religious or fervently Orthodox to support my bill.”

Sarsour’s legislation is unlikely to be ratified, however, given free-speech principles in Israel. There are no legal constraints on profaning Judaism or Christianity if the remarks do not constitute incitement to violence.


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