Cairo: Israeli authorities have turned a historic mosque in an occupied Palestinian town into a nightclub, a local Muslim official has said.
An Israeli company linked to the municipality of Safad in North Palestine has turned the 13th century Al Ahmar (Red) Mosque into a bar and a wedding hall.
“I was shocked when I saw aspects of sabotage inside the mosque,” Khair Tabari, the secretary of a Palestinian Islamic endowment agency, told London-based newspaper Al Qodus Al Arabi.
Years ago, Tabari filed a lawsuit with the Nazareth court, requesting the handover of the mosque to the Islamic endowments.
But the court has yet to rule on the suit.
Tabari said he had backed up his case with ownership documents and price lists of services being offered in the site.
The site was renamed to Khan Al Ahmar in order to distract attention from its sanctity as a mosque.
The mosque has experienced a series of desecrations since the creation of Israel in 1948.
First, it was turned into a Jewish seminary.
In 2006, it became an election office for the Israeli Kadima Party before used as a clothes warehouse.
“Al Ahmar Mosque derives its name from its red stones. Today, it is used in several ways except as a prayer place for Muslims,” said Mustafa Abbas, a historian and a native of Safad.
“Muslims visiting the place face attacks from Jewish colonists,” he added.
“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.