Passions Inflamed by Secret Mosque
Jerusalem, atrick Cockburn, The Independent (London, England)
PIn the struggle for the holy sites of Jerusalem, Muslims have won a victory by constructing an underground mosque, capable of holding 7,000 worshippers, beneath the great masonry platform built by Herod on which stand Islam's third holiest shrines. The new mosque, built in semi- secret, is in an undergound area known as Solomon's Stables, where the Crusaders once kept their war-horses.
The revelation that the mosque is to open in the next week is further fuelling animosity between Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem. "We had two attacks by Jewish extremists yesterday," said Adnan Hussein, the director of Islamic Waqf, which administers the mosques and shrines on the Haram Es-Sharif, "the Noble Sanctuary".
Solomon's Stables have nothing to do with Solomon and were not designed for the stabling of horses. The 12 rows of graceful columns are rather the underground support for the south end of Temple Mount, the 34-acre platform built by Herod as the site for the Second Temple. In his office overlooking the Haram, Mr Hussein insists that the mosque had been used for Islamic devotions since Muslims captured the city. That is not strictly true but there is little Israel can do to reverse its conversion into a mosque since the Stables of Solomon are firmly under Islamic control. "If they try to stop us there will be a much greater popular reaction than over the tunnel," Mr Husseini says. Many Muslims in Jerusalem say they see the new mosque as a quid pro quo, intended or not, for the opening by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, of the tunnel beneath the Muslim quarter which led to the death of 75 Israelis and Palestinians. Waqf officials deny reports that they discussed a deal with the authorities whereby they would not object to the exit to the tunnel if they were allowed to open their mosque. The …
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Publication information: Article title: Passions Inflamed by Secret Mosque. Contributors: Jerusalem, atrick Cockburn - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 11, 1996. Page number: 12. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.