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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 July 2007, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Israel row over Harry Potter sale
Jewish man passes sign for Harry Potter book launch in Israel - 17/07/2007
Many Israelis have placed advance orders for the new Potter book
The worldwide launch of the latest Harry Potter is provoking religious controversy in Israel.

Bookstores will be opening on the Sabbath, the Jewish holy day, to sell the final instalment to eager fans.

Most shops are normally closed for trade on the Sabbath, which runs from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.

Religious politicians are accusing the bookstores of putting profits ahead of religious sensitivities for agreeing to open their shops.

The Israeli Industry and Trade Minister, Eli Yishai, has threatened to fine any store that opens on Saturday.

Israeli law forbids businesses to force their employees to work on the Sabbath.

Advance orders

"I think it's a little chutzpah [audacious] of them to open the stores just to make money," Associated Press news agency quoted Israeli member of parliament Avraham Ravitz as saying.

But the booksellers remain unrepentant.

Steimatzky, part of Israel's biggest bookstore chain, is hosting a gala event in Tel Aviv to launch the book.

The chain says that it has received ten of thousands of advance orders for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and has no plans to cancel or postpone its event.

"We are required by the publishers to start selling the books at this time," said store buyer Nancy Ayalon.

The Harry Potter books have sold more than 325 million copies worldwide and have been translated into at least 64 languages, including Hebrew.

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