A member of Israel’s parliament who generated headlines across the world when he linked earthquakes to gay rights has been receiving death threats.
Shlomo Benizri, who is a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, has been targeted by someone using the name “Satan.”
The Jerusalem Post reports: “It is unknown if those threats are connected to a suspicious envelope filled with white powder that the MK received last week, prompting an evacuation of the first floor of the Knesset (parliament).
“That powder was found to be harmless.”
During a Knesset debate on earthquake preparedness last month Mr Benizri, after reading passages from the Old Testament, said that in his view one cause of earthquakes is that “the Knesset gives legitimacy to sodomy.
“A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage would be to stop passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the State of Israel, which anyways causes earthquakes.”
In January the Knesset discussed new legislation that would enable Jerusalem’s city authorities to ban gay Pride parades on the grounds that they might offend religious people or create a disturbance.
During the debate Shas MK Nissim Zeev, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, restated his view that gay people should be put in rehabilitation centres and called the gay rights movement a “plague that may destroy Jewish Israel” that should be dealt with by the Ministry of Health.
Last year’s gay Pride march took place in June despite violent protest from Orthodox Jewish groups.
Around 5,000 people took part, protected by 7,000 police officers.
In the week leading up to Pride 10,000 religious Jews protested and rioted, burning tyres and attacking police cars, but the Israeli Supreme Court ruled the parade should go ahead.
Jerusalem Pride has been denounced by conservative Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders who regard the city as holy.
In 2006 it was was delayed and then cancelled, with a Pride gathering held in a sports stadium instead.
The Jerusalem Post reported in June that three quarters of the city’s residents oppose the Pride parade.
In 2005, an Orthodox Jewish protester stabbed and wounded three people at Jerusalem Pride.