Row over Jerusalem Muslim cemetery

By Wyre Davies
BBC News, Jerusalem
Saturday, 8 November 2008

Religious leaders in Jerusalem are warning of dangerous consequences after a decision by Israel's Supreme Court to allow the destruction of part of an ancient Muslim cemetery.

The graveyard has not been used for more than 50 years, but contains the bodies of some important Islamic figures.

Many of those bodies will now be disturbed to make way for a new Jewish "Museum of Tolerance".

Earlier this week hundreds of Muslims - young and old - marched through the centre of Jerusalem towards the city's Mamilla cemetery.

Police helicopters flew overhead and security was tight. The focus of the march, and of increasing Muslim anger, was the Israeli Supreme Court decision to sanction a controversial new building on part of the Muslim cemetery.


Located just inside West Jerusalem, the cemetery is not used for burials any more but Muslim leaders made clear they still regard it as sacred, as they arrived for a rally reading verses from the Koran.

The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, led the peaceful but passionate demonstration.

He called the court's decision an "outrage" and "disrespectful of the dead".

The $250m (£160m) complex - designed by Frank Gehry - will be built by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center and is bold and ambitious.

Its sharp, futuristic lines will dominate the immediate area. In what is already a crowded city, Rabbi Marvin Hier, from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the museum was a sensible use of "derelict land".

"Jerusalem is a city built on top of thousands of bones - Jewish and Muslim," he said. "If we declared the whole of Jerusalem one huge cemetery, we'd never be able to build anything."

He pointed out that only part of the graveyard would be demolished to make way for the new centre.

Muslims disagree, and point out that the graveyard is still visited by the families of the dead.

"The cemetery is older than the United States - it's been used for hundreds of years," said Mohammed al-Dejani, whose great-grandfather is buried in the graveyard.

"Some of the warriors of Saladin [Muslim warrior who retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders] are buried there and other great Muslim leaders from many years ago."

Despite the strength of feeling among an increasing number of Muslims, there is no doubt that much of the cemetery is run-down.

Some graves have been vandalised - others are in a poor state of repair. The Simon Wiesenthal Center says that it will deal respectfully with any human remains it uncovers or graves disturbed by the building work.

Plans for cemetery have triggered angry protests
Ruling in favour of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Supreme Court noted that no objections were lodged in 1960 when part of the graveyard was made into a car park.

Many of those opposed to the new building say that any proposal to build on top of a Jewish cemetery would never have been allowed.

Construction work has already begun in a corner of the graveyard. Dozens of bones have been dug up and no decision has been taken over what to do with them.

The cemetery is still a relatively quiet, peaceful place - but one which could become another dangerous flashpoint between Jews and Muslims in this divided city.



Destroying our Al-Aqsa, humiliating our dead, May Allah aza wajal grant victory to the Muslims against all our enemies, ameen.


Junior Member
wa alaikum assalam

First of all ameen to the above dua. Like you brother I was also angered when i heard the news of the destruction of the cemetry, almost a week ago. Then today I came across something else which just made my blood boil. Not sure if your aware but an Israeli candidate (Arnon Giladi) said that he will work on changing a mosque in jaffa into a nightclub if he wins elections. But Al-Aqsa foundation for the heritage confirmed in a press statement that it will not allow the judaization of the mosque and that such intentions will be faced by strong oppositions to fail it. Also the Israelis have planned to build a syagogue which is set to be the tallest and largest in Jerusalem and will help towards the process of judaization in the area.The purpose of which is to give an impression of Jewish presence in the city as the Israeli's have fears and concerns of the islamic nature of the city.

I pray that Allah subhana wa ta'ala protects both muslims and our places of worship.ameen



i'm telling you, the weakness of the muslim ummah is killing us. our weakness will only serve to help the oppressors of muslims to continue to do what they are doing.


Junior Member

i'm telling you, the weakness of the muslim ummah is killing us. our weakness will only serve to help the oppressors of muslims to continue to do what they are doing.

:salam2: yes, this is so true, brother.... there is so much persecution and torture of our muslim brothers and sisters and overwhelming injustice and it is as if we have become numb to it. often i see threads about palestine by sister harb and even on tti, sometimes, few will bother opening it to see what is going on there... a jewish museum of tolerance, hmm, to rehash the history of the holocaust which was an appalling thing but now the zionists are the nazis and the palestinians, muslims and christians, are the victims. shouldn't they be working on being more "tolerant" of the palestinians whose land they occupy???? :girl3: