A scary story from Jerusalem Gay Pride...
9 Palestinian-Americans came to Gay Pride in Jerusalem.
A group of gay Palestinian Americans canceled a planned pride march in East Jerusalem on Friday after one of them was beaten unconscious by a local man who said he was from the Waqf Muslim religious authority.
The beating incident occurred on the same day an Israeli gay pride rally went ahead as scheduled, though without a planned march through city streets. The march had been called off after threats by religious and right-wing opponents to mount huge counterdemonstrations. Only minor violence marred the event.
In the East Jerusalem beating, two men -- one wielding a knife -- came looking for the group of gay Palestinian Americans who were staying at the Faisal Hostel near the Damascus Gate of the Old City. One of the assailants identified himself as being from the Waqf, the clerical trust that administers Muslim religious sites in the city.
"I'm pretty terrified right now," said Daoud, an MBA student from Detroit who declined to give his full name. "We left the hostel immediately, but when my friend went back to collect some things, they were waiting for him. They asked if he was with 'the homos' and then started beating him."
He said the victim, from Chicago, was badly beaten, knocked down a flight of stairs and left unconscious. The man, whose name was withheld for his safety, was taken to the El-Mokassed Hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment.
"It was very scary. These two guys came in and said they had heard we were planning to march. They drew a knife and said if we marched they would cut our heads off. They sounded like they meant it," he said.
Daoud said nine gay Palestinian Americans had come to Jerusalem to join the pride march. "Maybe I was just being naive. I heard about the pride rally, and I thought it would be nice for us to do something together as a gay community," he said. "We got a different kind of reception instead."
In America, he said, "you have some tolerance and appreciation and understanding of what it means to be gay and to be a Palestinian. We're discovering the hard way it's not so acceptable here."
Rotem Biran, 25, a hotel sales executive from Tel Aviv, said she was disappointed not to be able to march with the Palestinians from East Jerusalem. But by the time she arrived at the Faisal Hostel, Daoud and his friends had disappeared.
"Gay Palestinians are really afraid," she said. "It's not the same as being Jewish and gay. For them, it's dangerous. They can't really do anything openly in their own community because it's so strict, so they come all the way to Tel Aviv to be with other gay people."