JERUSALEM, SEPT. 6 -- The city of Jerusalem has filed charges against two cinemas following a month of clashes between police and ultraorthodox Jews over the showing of films on the Sabbath, a city spokeswoman said today.

Spokeswoman Sevanah Meryn said the charges were filed because the moviehouses "violated city bylaws which state that commercial institutions cannot open on Friday nights," the start of the Sabbath.

Meryn denied the city decided to take action against the cinemas because of pressure from ultraorthodox Jews who have protested in Jerusalem for four consecutive weeks against the film showings, which, they say, desecrate the Sabbath.

"The mayor has to uphold the laws of the city. The charges would have been filed even if there were no protests," she said.

In the most violent clashes to date in the so-called "Sabbath War," mounted police on Saturday attacked hundreds of ultrareligious Jews with clubs and tear gas and arrested 28.

President Chaim Herzog expressed support for the ultraorthodox faction when he said: "I do not see any reason to change the custom that has existed so many years to respect the special character of Sabbath in Jerusalem, to respect the city and a very large sector of its population.