Ashdod, Israel – An estimated 3,000 people demonstrated in Ashdod for the second consecutive Saturday evening against the southern city’s plan to prohibit businesses from opening on Shabbat.
Protesters who gathered outside city hall carried signs proclaiming “The city is putting my home up for sale,” “No to religious coercion” and “Each to his own faith.” They also called on Mayor Yehiel Lasri to resign.
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid who attended the protest said “We’re here because the deplorable Supermarket Law has to go,” Lapid told protesters. “And if we win the next elections, we’ll cancel it because Haredi coercion cannot prevail. They set the tone for Israel’s majority.
“We don’t need Shabbat for everyone and don’t need a divided Shabbat. We’re here to back up the people of Ashdod. Anyone who denigrates the country, its army or the chief of staff, cannot preach morality to IDF soldiers.”
Ashdod residents protested closures of businesses on Shabbat and levying of fines on stores in the Big Fashion shopping complex. Protesters further maintained that the municipality was also discriminating against the secular public in areas of construction and education.
During the protest, signs were displayed saying, “This is not the Middle Ages”, “We’re here to return Ashdod to the Ashdodites” and “A free Ashdod against religious coercion.”
The protest was also attended by likeminded residents of other cities. “No one is going to dictate to us how to mark Shabbat,” said one such resident. “You cannot force a religious way of life on us.”