In embroidered velvet crowns and robes: Laurie, a Dutch anthropologist
and Kidane, an Eritrea asylum seeker and a local community leader
Radiating freedom, unity, and courage, Kidane Isaac and Laurie Lijnders were married this morning at St. Anthony's Church following an early morning mass in Tigrinya (Eritrean language) and some English. Hundreds of celebrants filled the Catholic church in this mixed Arab-Jewish city — African asylum seekers, mainly from Eritrea but also from Sudan; Israeli social activists; and friends and family of the bride from Holland. Kidane's parents and seven siblings are in Eritrea, and he doesn't know when, if ever, he will see his them. (Kidane and I have been friends nearly three years, since shortly after he arrived in Israel.)
Sudanese (L) and Eritrean (R) bridesmaids:
“We are all Africans,” said the Sudanese woman
The celebration was a welcome break from the protests, strikes, and constant dread of deportation. In recent weeks, Kidane helped organize the strikes that brought tens of thousands of asylum seekers to the streets and selected foreign embassies in Tel Aviv, and to the Knesset in Jerusalem demanding freedom and recognition of their refugee status.
Four days after the wedding, thousands of Africans and allies resumed the demonstrations in Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv, and in the afternoon protested again in front of embassies. They demand that the local government grant refugee status to eligible individuals and repeal the new amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law by releasing detainees in the Saharonim detention center and the Holot facility. Addressing these basic requirements is essential to relieving the global humanitarian crisis experienced locally.
|Listening attentively, holding many posters: "We want refugee rights"|
"Every heart to love will come like a refugee" (Leonard Cohen)