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Desecration of Holy Sites in Jerusalem

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Media Review Network (MRN), the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and the Al Quds Foundation – SA addressed a letter expressing our dismay at the desecration of gravesites in Palestine by the Zionist Government in Jerusalem.

We have learnt that the Zionist occupiers now plan to exhume 1000 graves from the cemetery of Ma’man Allah.

We once again repeat our call to our government and to the United Nations to place on record their strong objections of this act of intolerance by the Israeli Zionist authorities in Jerusalem.

It is ironic that the museum which the Zionist government intends building on this site will be called The Museum of ‘Tolerance’.

Issued by:

Ibrahim Vawda

Senior Researcher – Media Review Network

Tel: 012 374 6987

Cell: 072 295 0088


Below is the copy of the letter sent to the Department of International Relations and Co-Operation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

It is with great sadness that we address this letter to you.

The Media Review Network (MRN), Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and Al-Quds, have learnt from Israeli news sources that the desecration of Muslim and Christian graves in Jerusalem and the West Bank is now commonplace.

Last month, a cemetery in Jaffa was subject to much media attention as it was found that anti-Arab graffiti had been sprayed on the headstones of Muslim and Christian graves. A suspect who allegedly committed these acts was arrested by the Israeli police only to be released after a few days due to lack of evidence.

On the 10th November 2011, MRN received reports that similar anti-Arab graffiti was also sprayed across 15 Muslim graves in the ancient Ma’mila Cemetery in Jerusalem. It is ironic that this attack notonly occurred at such a holy site but that the cemetery itself is earmarked to be excavated for the building of the Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance.

We at the MRN should like to express our disgust at these acts. Such crimes are humiliating for the descendents of the deceased whose graves have been vandalised as well as an abuse of the dignity of the deceased.They epitomise a yobbish culture devoid of respect and tolerance, acting as a key obstacle to attaining peace between the Palestinians andthe Jews in a conflict ridden society.

These crimes have certainly been orchestrated to disrupt the peace that exists between religious groups and enhance the tensions that already underscore the Middle East region and as a consequence could lead to more attacks against holy sites as well as reprisals from communities who have been victimised. Such36can be avoided if the authorities take the necessary steps toward serving justice and retribution.

Furthermore, the MRN, MJC and Al-Quds should like the addressee to impress upon the Israeli government to halt all plans they have to buildover the cemetery. The Israeli authorities have revealed construction plans to build on top of the holy site as part of the Museum of Tolerance sanctioned by a joint venture between Israel and the Simon Wesenthal Centre (SWC) in Los Angeles. This is a grave violation not only toward the deceased Muslims who may be buried in the cemetery but also toward the Islamic history that the cemetery holds. Many of the companions of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be Upon Him) are buried in thecemetery as well as noble Islamic rulers, Caliphates and Saints. Excavation plans by the Israeli authorities shall destroy the history ofIslam and the rememberance of Islamic heritage in the Middle East. The Israeli government itself made the following statement about the cemetery when they seized Palestine in 1948:

“(Ma’mila Cemetery) to be one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries, where seventy thousand Muslim warriors of [Saladin’s] armies are interred along with many Muslim scholars. Israel will always know to protect and respect this site.”

The excavation plans by the Israeli authorities is once again indicativeof their religious intolerance, a common feature of the government which has been noted by international observers:

“Given this pattern of discrimination, not only with regard to the treatment of holy sites, but in all facets of the Israeli government’s relationship with the Muslim and Christian communities under its control, it is no surprise that attempts to stop the desecration of Mamilla, legally and otherwise, have been rebuffed by Israeli authorities. The Government [of Israel] implements regulations only for Jewish sites. Non-Jewish Holy Sites do not enjoy legal protection . . .because the Government does not recognize them as official holy sites…While well-known sites have de facto protection as a result of their international importance, many Muslim and Christian sites are neglected, inaccessible, or threatened by property developers and municipalities.”(United States Department International Religious Freedom Report 2009).

The MRN should like to urge Your Excellency to take note of the crimes of desecration and enquire as to what measures have been taken to locatethe perpetrators and toward ensuring that such acts are not repeated. In light of the aforesaid extract from the United States Department Report we further request that the Israeli authorities be called upon toexplain their excavation plans and every effort be made on your part tosuspend such measures in the interest of the religious freedom of Muslims and Christians. We feel that these crimes and the actions by theauthorities simply complicate the Palestinian conflict further and act as hindrances to the efforts of our organization and civil society at large.

Yours faithfully,

Media Review Network, Muslim Judicial Council and Al Quds Foundation SA