Heartbreak in Jerusalem: We need to talk about Shira Banki
In devastating news out of Jerusalem, Israel, a 16-year-old girl has died of stab wounds suffered while attending the city’s Pride Parade this past Thursday.
According to the Associated Press, 16-year-old Shira Banki — who succumbed to her injuries on Sunday — was one of six people stabbed at the festival by a man named Yishai Shlissel, who 10 years earlier was arrested for stabbing three people at the 2005 Jerusalem Pride Parade.
“To protest is an obligation in my opinion,” Mr. Shlissel, who had just completed his 10-year jail sentence three weeks ago, told an ultra-Orthodox radio service shortly before the attacks. “But it is not enough.”
Jerusalem is home to some religious groups who aren’t tolerant of same-sex rights. As a result, the parade has been a major source of contention since the first gathering was held in 2002.
“Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride Parade has long stirred strong emotions in the city, with many Orthodox Jews objecting to the public display, saying that it defiles the city and offends many of its residents,” writes the New York Times. “An ultra-Orthodox news website referred to it on Thursday as ‘the Parade of Abomination.’ There has also been criticism from Muslim and Christian quarters in the past.”
Still, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to condemn the attack, saying “In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right.”
Meanwhile, Shira Banki’s family plans on donating the 16-year-old’s organs while hundreds gathered at a mass vigil in her memory just hours after learning of her death.
“Our wonderful Shira was murdered only because of the fact that she was a happy 16-year-old girl, full of life and love, who came to support the rights of her friends and every person to live according to their own way,” said the Banki family in an official statement. “Without purpose, and because of stupid evils and carelessness, our wonderful flower’s life was cut short.”
Today we are thinking of Shira, and keeping her close to our hearts.
[Images via Facebook and Shutterstock]