By Amiram Barkat
Ha’aretz, English Editoin,
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
The Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Torkon II, yesterday complained to Israeli Interior Minister Avraham Poraz of harassment by `extremist’ Jews “They [the Jews] spit on us and swear at us when I or our people walk down the street,” the patriarch told Poraz.
He made the complaint during a round of meetings that the minister was holding with leaders of Israel’s Christian communities, following the transfer of the department for non-Jewish communities from the defunct Religious Affairs Ministry to the Interior Ministry.
Poraz asked police officers at the meeting why the police were not making efforts to arrest those who torment the patriarch and his people. The officers replied that the police safeguard religious processions, but lack the means to guard every monk.
All the community leaders asked Poraz to facilitate the procedures for obtaining entrance visas to Israel for religious figures. Some religious leaders also complained that they were forced to undergo humiliating physical examinations on entering Israel via the Allenby Bridge border terminal. The Coptic archbishop, Anba Abraham, said that he was forced to take his shoes off for the examination and that the cross he wears on his chest was taken by the guards for inspection.
Poraz told them that he would look into the situation and try to solve their problems.