Israeli Police arrested two Palestinians from east Jerusalem on Tuesday suspected of beating two young Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) boys and forcing them to say the Shahada, a testimony of faith that is said when converting to Islam.
According to a Hebrew language tweet by the Israeli Police, the two Arabs were arrested on Tuesday morning on suspicion that they beat and cursed the victims before fleeing. The two victims were on their way to the Shiloah pool early Saturday morning, a ten minute walk from the Western Wall, when they were attacked by the two Arabs.
A report in The Jewish Press stated that the victims had contacted Honenu, a Zionist legal aid association. The victims told Honenu that their assailants forced them to recite the Shahada, praise Hamas, and curse Israel. The assailants made a video record of the assault.
“Every day I treat victims of terror, but this a different kind of incident,” Honenu lawyer Haim Bleicher said in an interview with the Jewish Press. “It’s an event that reminds us of the darkest days when Jews were humiliated and trampled.
“The attackers not only physically harm[ed] their victims, but they also humiliated them, forcing them to undergo a caustic, racist and anti-Semitic ordeal.”
Reciting the Shahada in front of two Muslims constitutes conversion according to the laws of Islam.
Dr. Timothy Furnish, an international media commentator and author on radical Islam, said this was an unusually blatant case of violent force conversion but not outside what is permitted in Sharia law.
“Historically, forced conversion to Islam has never been a problem,” Dr. Furnish told Breaking Israel News. “Many Muslims will say that Koranic text states that there is no compulsion in the religion but there is plenty of text that does describe forced, even violent conversion to Islam. Not every Islamic group adheres to this as a method of converting but clearly many still do.”
“No mainstream court of Islamic jurisprudence has ever ruled that forced conversion is illegal,” Dr. Furnish concluded.
According to Jewish law, a Jew who converts to another religion is still a Jew and part of Israel, even more so in cases such as this of forced conversion.