Skip to comments.Islamic Leaders Accuse Vatican of Meddling Over Nazareth Mosque.
Posted on 01/11/2002 5:14:51 PM PST by marshmallow
The Pope was accused yesterday of tampering with the sensitive relationship between Israel and its Muslim minority by convincing the government to halt construction of a mosque in Nazareth.
The row detonated as the pontiff appealed for Middle East peace during his annual "state of the world" address to diplomats at the Vatican, in which he described the region as a "land of fire and blood".
In the Middle East, the conflict was deteriorating on several fronts. The Israeli army collectively punished Palestinian residents in the south of the occupied Gaza Strip by flattening more than 60 homes in the poor and overcrowded Rafah refugee camp.
The destruction, which drew tepid criticism from the United States, was in retaliation for Wednesday's killing of four Bedouin soldiers from the Israeli army by two Hamas suicide gunmen, both from Rafah.
More than 100 residents fled before dawn in pouring rain and heavy mud as a dozen tanks and bulldozers smashed their houses in one of the army's largest wrecking missions of the intifada.
The picture grew bleaker with an announcement by the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it was scrapping an agreement with Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority not to mount attacks in Israel. The group has carried out numerous suicide attacks, second only to the far larger Hamas. The statement raised the spectre of more.
Inside Israel itself, where relations with the Israeli Arab minority are at a record low, Islamic leaders were fuming over the government's decision to stop the Nazareth mosque, and blaming the Pope for making the region more volatile.
The large mosque a source of intense inter-religious strife and past violence is being erected beside the Basilica of the Annunciation, the biggest church in the Middle East. It marks the place where Christians believe the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary.
On Wednesday, Israel's security cabinet suspended the construction, which had been approved by the previous Israeli government, after pressure from Christian leaders.
The Vatican said recently that the mosque would place one of Christianity's most important shrines in a "permanent state of siege". When the mosque's cornerstone was laid in November 1999, the Holy Land's churches closed for two days in protest, and the Pope threatened to cancel his millennium year visit to Israel.
Israel has appointed a committee to investigate another site. Islamic leaders are furious. Muslims consider the current site to mark the sacred tomb of Shihab a-Din, a nephew of Saladin, the legendary commander of the Muslim army who seized Jerusalem from the Crusaders in the 12th century.
Salman Abu Ahmed, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nazareth in north Israel an Arab city of 70,000 divided between Christians and Muslims said the freeze amounted to a "declaration of war" on Muslims. He has accused the pontiff and other Christian leaders of influencing the decision, vowing that "the Pope won't dictate to us".
That is the current situation in reverse.
These people are arrogant and belligerant in the extreme.
Sharon should have put a stop to the work much earlier. Stopping construction of a mosque whose cornerstone has already been laid is a lot more controversial than stopping this misbegotten project before it ever got started.
Even Arafat opposed building this mosque at the time that Barak first made his obnoxious decision. But now, of course, all the Muslims will be up in arms, and no doubt will start murdering Christians, their usual response.
AHHHHHHHH but how can it be.Our president tells us "Islam means peace" there must be some mistake
The Muslim Mass Murderers can "manufacture" holy places all day long.
Sounds like Israel made a huge mistake, very untypical; it's as if they were unconscious one day.
That mosque should be rebuilt elsewhere without any doubt whatsoever. Talk about stupidity. That makes as much sense as creating a hostile Muslim state next door...
Or the Muslims might allow a huge christian church next to their largest mosque, only bigger. Someone should make that suggestion and carefully examine the response.
The people in Rome knew they were being jerked around but could do nothing. Once the footers were put in and construction underway .......... Only then did the Church say what Israel wanted to hear and the Islamic construction was halted. A first as far as I know.
I am sure the Islamics are STEAMED and they feel they have once more been HUMILIATED which is a big no no for them. Stupid paganist medieval fine and OK but humiliated never!
So now they are blaming the POPE????
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everytime the Arab Islamics don't get what they want it's a declaration of war.
I suspect that the vatican is worried that if Nazareth gets filled with Moslem tourists, the Catholic tourists will find no room at the inns.