Israeli Wins Right to be Classed as 'No Religion'

AFP, Oct. 2 - An Israeli writer has won a historic court victory granting his request to be officially registered as "without religion" rather than "Jewish," Israeli newspaperHaaretz reported on Sunday.

Yoram Kaniuk turned to the courts in May after the interior ministry refused to alter his official religious status from Jewish to "without religion," Haaretz said.

And last week, a Tel Aviv court sided with his demand, ruling that Israeli law allows citizens to be officially registered as having no religion.

"Freedom from religion is a freedom derived from the right to human dignity, which is protected by the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom," Haaretz quoted the ruling as saying.

Israel registers its citizens according to both their religion and their ethnicity, although it does not include an "Israeli" ethnicity, labelling its Jewish citizens as of "Jewish" ethnicity. That has raised the ire of secular groups who have petitioned the interior ministry for years to replace the Jewish ethnicity label with an Israeli one.