The Al Aqsa Foundation has accused the Israeli government of turning the Grand Mosque in Bir Al-Saba' into a "Museum of Judaisation". Such a move by the local municipality "is invalid" claims the Foundation: "The Grand Mosque is a sacred place and a religious endowment property; it cannot be used for purposes other than Islamic worship."
Built in 1906 during Ottoman rule, the Grand Mosque is now home to a variety of images, statues and other "disgraceful" things which violate the sanctity of the mosque and the feelings of Muslims, said a statement released by the Foundation.
A delegation from the Al Aqsa Foundation made a field visit to the mosque to inspect the violations of Israel's Bir Al-Saba' Municipality. The members of the delegation made a point of praying in the mosque to "emphasise its purpose and sanctity". It should be returned to its original purpose and not used as a museum or other showcase, they said.
Al Aqsa Foundation's deputy head, Hajj Sami Rizkallah Abu Mukh, said that the Israelis had hung photographs on the mosque's walls showing Zionist gangs' seizure of Bir Al-Saba' and occupation of the mosque in 1948, alongside pictures of the Israeli history in the city. He said that this sacrilege against a holy place broke his heart, especially when he saw statues of Israeli and British soldiers in the corners of the mosque, and big screens displaying indecent scenes, including people drinking wine and dancing.
Hajj Abu Mukh added that the municipality is trying to deceive public opinion by displaying historical photos of the mosque from the Ottoman era; most of the pictures are from the British Mandate period up to today. "Bir Al-Saba'," he added, "is historically an Arab and Islamic city." He deplored the fact that tourists are visiting the mosque to see the exhibition, even though it is supposed to be a place of worship, not a museum or art gallery.
Al Aqsa Foundation had earlier rejected an Israeli court decision to turn the mosque into a museum of Islamic and oriental heritage, and called for the reopening of the building for Muslim worshippers.