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Israel Razes Nazareth Mosque Foundation

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  • ummyakoub
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3035240.stm An Israeli demolition squad has smashed the foundations of a mosque being built near the Basilica of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2003
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3035240.stm



      An Israeli demolition squad has smashed the foundations of a mosque
      being built near the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth - the
      largest Christian church in the Middle East.
      An Israeli court ordered the demolition of the Shihab al-Din mosque -
      which did not have a building permit - in March.

      Israeli security forces moved in with bulldozers at the site around
      dawn while most of the city's Muslims were sleeping.

      Protestors headed to the site and several were arrested, and a number
      scuffled with the police, the BBC's James Reynolds says.

      Thorny issue

      The mosque has been a source of contention for years between Muslim
      and Christian leaders and Israeli authorities.

      Christian leaders said building a mosque so close to the basilica
      would be disrespectful.

      Muslims cherish the site because a Muslim religious leader is buried
      there.

      Pope John Paul II threatened to cancel a visit in 2000 over the
      issue, and US President George W Bush raised the subject with Israeli
      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a meeting the following year.

      About 40% of the Arab Israeli city of Nazareth is Christian, the rest
      of the population is Muslim.

      But the Christian population has been shrinking, and is now estimated
      to be less than 4% of the population of Israel and the Palestinian-
      controlled areas.

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ------------------------
      Gov't razes foundations of unauthorized Nazareth mosque

      By Uri Ash and Haaretz Service

      Haaretz
      1 July 2003

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/313408.html

      In an operation that began in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday in the
      northern town of Nazareth, the Interior Ministry sent large
      bulldozers to demolish the foundations of the unauthorized Shehab
      a-Din mosque, which Muslems sought to erect next to the town's
      Church of the Annunciation.

      Although protest at the site was minor, angry Muslim leaders
      condemned the move, tying it to reports that Israel was quietlly
      allowing Jews to enter the Temple Mount after a long suspension of
      such visits.

      MK Abdelmalik Dahamshe of the United Arab List accused the

      Bush administration and the Sharon government of having banded
      together for a "war on Islam."

      "The new crusade of the Bush-Sharon axis of evil in the world is
      against Islam. It's no wonder that on same day, they demolish the
      foundations of the mosque in Nazereth, and announce visits on the
      Noble Sanctuary (the Temple Mount).

      Some 500 police and were deployed in and around the city, where the
      effort to build the mosque has prompted friction between Israeli
      Arab Christians and Muslems since late 1997, when a group of Muslims
      put up a tent at the site and declared it a mosque.

      The demolition, expected to be completed by the end of the day,
      follows a court order at the conclusion of a protracted legal
      battle. Immediately after the demolition work has ended, the Housing
      Ministry plans to begin building a large central municipal square at
      the site.

      A number of demonstrators were arrested or detained near the
      foundations Tuesday, including the city's deputy mayor, Salman Abu
      Ahmed, arrested for blocking a road near the site. On the whole,
      however, protests were much milder than security forces had feared.

      The large church is a focus of Christian pilgrimage from abroad.
      Israel granted the national Islamic Trust (Waqf) permission in 1999
      to build a mosque somje 500 meters from the church. The site houses
      the tomb of Shehab e-Din, nephew of the Muslim leader Saladin who
      ousted the Crusaders from the Holy Land eight centuries ago.

      Christian tradition holds that the basilica marks the site where the
      angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary she would bear the son of God.

      The prospect of a mosque rising near the basilica alarmed the
      minority Christian population of Nazareth, disturbing a delicate
      religious balance in Israel's leading Arab city, where riots between
      the two communities erupted in April 1999.

      The Vatican and U.S. churches voiced concern, leading to an Israeli
      ministerial review of the project and a cabinet decision in March
      2002 to end construction of the mosque on grounds the Waqf failed to
      obtain proper building permits. The decision has since been upheld
      by Israeli courts.

      Earlier this month, the Nazareth District Court rejected an appeal
      by the Religious Trust and ordered that the demolition go ahead.

      "The demolition is simply a provocation, aimed at riding roughshod
      over the Muslim population of Nazareth," Abu Ahmed said before his
      arrest.


      "I call on everyone to gather here and and make decisions. It is a
      disgrace for the government of Israel to destroy a mosque that lacks
      authorization, at the same time that hundreds, even thousands of
      houses standing in and around the city lack permits."


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