GAZA: A centuries-old Palestinian mosque in the northern Safed district of Israel has been converted into a bar, international media reported Wednesday.
Al-Ahmar Mosque has been repurposed several times since 1948 - first into a Jewish school, then an election campaigns centre, then a clothing shop and now a bar and events hall.
Khair Tabari, secretary of Safed and Tiberias Islamic Endowment, has been trying to rescue the mosque for years. He has requested for the mosque to be returned to the endowment and is awaiting a ruling from a Nazareth court.
The mosque - its name changed from al-Ahmar mosque to Khan al-Ahmar, was turned into a bar and wedding hall by a firm affiliated with the Israeli Safed municipality, reported al-Quds al-Arabi.
"I felt dizzy when I noticed the vandalism inside the mosque, as can be seen by the remains of Qu'ranic verses which were removed from the pulpit and replaced by the Ten Commandments in Hebrew," Tabari told al-Quds al-Arabi.
The mosque, built in 1276, has great historical and architectural value, according to historian Dr. Mustafa Abbasi. "Al-Ahmar Mosque derives its name from its red stones. Today, it is used in various ways but not as a prayer space for Muslims," the Safed native said.
The other historical mosques in Safed have similar stories. The Greek mosque, built in 1319, was transformed into an art gallery in which praying is forbidden Thousands of Palestinians - including the family of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - were uprooted when they fled Safad in 1948, before Jewish paramilitary forces took control. There is no significant Arab population today.
"I visited Safed before, once," President Abbas told Israeli media. "But I want to see Safed. It's my right to see it, but not to live there." “The mosque has a rare historical and architectural value as it was established by the Mameluke Sultan Al Daher Baibars [1223-1277 AD),” Abbas said.
A stone sign at the entrance to the mosque states it was built in 1276 AD. Israeli authorities are accused of systematically encroaching on Islamic sites in occupied Palestinian territories with the aim of obliterating their identity.
Israeli Jews and soldiers have repeatedly raided Al Aqsa Mosque in Occupied, which is Islam’s third holiest site. “Jews have altered most mosques and Palestinian endowments, mainly in towns and villages where their local people were forced to leave and occupied by Jews, who evicted Muslims and Christians from them,” said Palestinian Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs Yusuf Adais.
“They [Jews] have converted a large number of these sites into nightclubs,blew up some and turned others into synagogues,” he added.