The Council of Ministers of Culture of the Islamic World has declared Hebron, a Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank, as the Islamic Culture Capital for the year 2026.
According to Wafa news agency, this significant decision was made yesterday during a meeting convened in Doha.
Hebron, renowned for its profound Islamic and Arab heritage, was chosen to emphasise its cultural significance and to address concerns of Israel’s attempts to change its Arab-Islamic identity and promote Judaisation.
Palestinian Minister of Culture, Atef Abu Saif, said the choice of Hebron is intended to bring to light the Israeli efforts to appropriate the city’s heritage and historical artefacts. He stressed the importance of this selection, noting that the Islamic world will focus its cultural endeavours on the city. The objective of these initiatives and visions is to maintain Hebron’s Islamic identity, which he criticises Israel for attempting to change.
Abu Saif additionally emphasised the importance of communicating the circumstances in Hebron to the Islamic global community, especially since the region was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2017 as a Palestinian heritage site.
He also stressed the importance of a collaborative endeavour and strong measures to safeguard sacred sites.
“We have a great responsibility to present what is happening in Hebron to the Islamic world to tell them a clear message that preserving the holy places requires effort from all of us and strong interventions in order to preserve the Palestinian identity in this city,” said the culture minister.
Hebron is home to the Ibrahimi Mosque, in which Prophet Ibrahim and his wife are buried along with a number of other revered Islamic figures. It was split to make way for synagogue following the 1994 massacre of Muslim worshippers at the hands of an extremist settler.
Israeli occupation forces regularly ban Muslims and Arabs from the site and the roads around it to make way for settlers.
Jerusalem held the title of Islamic Culture Capital in 2019 and was designated as the Arab Culture Capital in 2009, while Bethlehem was the capital of Arab culture in 2020.