Islamic Human Rights Commission
URGENT ALERT: Stop the Israeli government digging up Muslim graves in Jerusalem
09 February 2006
The Israeli Government and the Jerusalem Principality are digging up Muslim graves, including those of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), in Maman Allah cemetery, the oldest graveyard in Palestine in order to build a museum of tolerance.
A ‘museum of tolerance’ is being built in Jerusalem for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for $150 million (£86 million) on top of the Maman Allah graveyard. This project was conceived of by the Jerusalem Principality and the Israeli Government and was launched by individuals such as acting Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert and the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The proposed site is a Muslim Graveyard, which has been in use for an estimated 15 centuries. The graveyard contains the bodies of many Muslims including numerous Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). The Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri has demanded a halt to the excavations and revealed that no Muslim religious authority has been consulted on the dig.
The graveyard was taken by the Custodian of Absentee Property under Israel\’s \\\”absentee property\\\” law after the creation of Israel in 1948. A petition was brought before the Islamic Court, a division of the Israeli Justice system, and a temporary ban was decreed. However in spite of this, Israeli archaeologists and developers have continued excavating. Police have been taking legal advice on whether the order is legally binding. Families from Jerusalem who have ancestors buried in Maman Allah are supporting the case presented to the Israeli Supreme Court.
An attempt to justify this course of conduct was made by a spokeswoman for the Israel Antiquities Authority, Osnat Goaz. She comments \\\”Israel is more crowded with ancient artefacts than any other country in the world. If we didn\’t build on former cemeteries, we would never build”.
Ironically it has been stated that the aim of this Museum is to promote \\\”unity and respect among Jews and between people of all faiths\\\” but to build a museum on the excavated
graves of Muslims will have the opposite effect and further enrage tensions.
2. Suggested Action
Contact UNESCO and demand that they register the cemetery as an international historical site.
Sample letters and details of the UNESCO can be found below for your convenience
7, place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP
Tel: +33 (0)1 45 68 10 00
Fax: +33 (0)1 45 67 16 90
Dear Koïchiro Matsuura,
RE: Mamun Allah Graveyard desecration
I am writing to bring to your attention and express my deep anguish at the excavation of Mamum Allah Graveyard, the oldest cemetery in Palestine. This sacred land has been in used for 15 Centuries, and is the resting place of many Muslims. The deceased include Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), martyrs under the command of Salahuddin Ayubi and countless ordinary Palestinians.
This sacred land is due to host a ‘Museum of tolerance’ conceived by the joint efforts of the Jerusalem principality and the Israeli Government. Clearly building a ‘museum of tolerance’ on the excavated graves of thousands of Muslims will worsen the already unbearable tensions between the different peoples of Palestine.
The matter is made worse by the fact that in spite of a court ruling issuing a temporary ban on the excavations, the Israeli archaeologists and developers continue their grave digging with impunity. To make matters worse no Muslim religious authority was consulted in any way before undertaking this sacrilegious course of conduct.
I urge you to make representations in the strongest possible terms denouncing the destruction of the oldest graveyard in Palestine. I also urge you to declare the cemetery an international historical site, as this is the only way to ensure its protection in the future from any further desecration.
I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.
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Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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