February 17, 2016 at 11:10 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Jerusalem square to be renamed in honor of murdered teenager

Shira Banki, Jerusalem Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Jerusalem authorities have announced they will rename a square in honor of Shira Banki, a teenager who was stabbed to death last July during a Pride march. (Photo courtesy of Jerusalem Open House)

Jerusalem authorities have announced they will rename a square in honor of a teenager who was stabbed to death during a Pride march.

The Jerusalem Municipality on Monday announced that Zion Square will be renamed Tolerance Square.

“Zion Square in the historic heart of downtown Jerusalem — which for many years attracted protests, demonstrations and clashes — will soon become a square to represent tolerance and mutual respect in the spirit of the late Shira Banki, murdered during the Gay Pride Parade,” said the municipality in a statement, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Prosecutors allege that Yishai Schlissel on July 30, 2015, stabbed Banki to death and injured five others who were taking part in the Pride march. Schlissel, who is an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man, previously served a 10-year prison sentence in connection with the stabbing of three people during a Jerusalem Pride march in 2005.

Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, a local advocacy group that organized the Pride march, in a statement noted that LGBT Jerusalemites gathered in Zion Square hours after last July’s attack “to grieve and protest.”

“We welcome the decision of the municipality and are amazed by the strength and commitment by the Banki family to spread light in Jerusalem,” said the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. “We will continue to work with our partners to make Jerusalem the city that celebrates diversity and protects its minorities.”

Monday’s announcement comes less than a month after more than 200 protesters forced the cancellation of a reception at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference that was to have featured Sarah Kala-Meir and Tom Canning from the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance.

A Wider Bridge, an organization that seeks to bolster “LGBTQ connections with Israel,” organized the reception. The protesters opposed “pinkwashing,” which they describe as the promotion of Israel’s LGBT rights record in an attempt to deflect attention away from its controversial policies towards the Palestinians.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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