Israel turning mosques into synagogues, nightclubs
Al-Ahmar Mosque in the northern town of Safed was turned into a concert hall.
Israel is now turning mosques into synagogues and nightclubs. One of Tiberias’ landmarks, the mosque, also known as the Zaydani mosque, was built on the Mamluq architecture, with a big dome and a minaret.
“Like most Palestinians, the Tiberias locals have fled to Lebanon and Syria following the Nakba (1948 Palestinian exodus),” said Kamal Khatib of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.
“The Zaydani family, nevertheless, moved to the adjacent city of Nazareth,” he said.
Khatib said the Zaydani family had requested the Israeli authorities to permit them to renovate the Umari mosque.
“The Tiberias Municipality refused, arguing that it would renovate it, but nothing happened,” he said.
“Even since the mosque has been shut down with Israeli authorities banning worshippers and tourists from entering it,” he said.
The study also revealed that 40 mosques were either closed, abandoned, or destroyed, while 17 others were turned into museums, bars, and restaurants.
For instance, the Al-Ahmar Mosque in the northern town of Safed was turned into a concert hall.
Likewise, the Al-Jadid Mosque in the city of Caesarea was changed into a bar.
Khatib remembers that mosques in the pre-Nakba era were swarmed with worshippers. “After the Nakba, though, mosques were destroyed, particularly those in villages. Other mosques were either converted into bars, museums, cafes, restaurants, or synagogues.”
Khatib lamented that the Israeli policy “disregards the views of Muslims,” citing the al-Isaaf cemetery in Jaffa, where graves were razed despite protests from residents.
Khatib said Israeli authorities had enacted legislation to confiscate the property of Palestinians, who were forced to flee their homes.
“The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the law of absentees, under which Israel illegally confiscated buildings and property of Arab citizens who were forced to leave their homes to other regions,” he said.
Israel rejects the accusations of using mosques for various purposes than worshipping.
In October 2015, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said there were near 400 mosques in Israel and that the number of worshippers doubled five times over the past 25 years.
However, Khatib dismisses the Israeli claim, saying, “The Israeli government has never built a mosque in the country’s history.”
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