Monday, September 22, 2008

Temple Mount in Religious Freedom Report

Here is the section on the Temple Mount from the US International Religious Freedom Report 2008, Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, September 19, 2008 -

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The Israeli Government prevented most Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from reaching the Haram al-Sharif by prohibiting their entry into Jerusalem. Restrictions were often placed on entry into the Haram al-Sharif for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, especially males under the age of 45. During the clashes surrounding the excavations at the Mughrabi Gate ramp in 2007, males under the age of 50 were prohibited entry to the Haram al-Sharif.

Oh, really?

Well, this picture

shows, with the Dome of the Rock Mosque seen in the background, thousands of Palestinian Muslim worshippers praying during the third Friday prayers of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, Sept. 19, 2008.
(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Brutal discrimination, I'd say.

More excerpts from the report as it relates to the Temple Mount, with my comments in brackets [ ]:-

PA government policy contributed to the generally free practice of religion, although problems persisted. The Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) contains the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, among the holiest sites in Islam. Jews refer to the same place as the Temple Mount and consider it [consider? but it is! there is not one archeologist that agrees with Arafta that the Temples weren't there!] the location of the ancient Jewish temple. The location has been, as with all of East Jerusalem, under Israeli control since 1967, when Israel captured the city (East Jerusalem was formally annexed in 1980, and thus Israel applies its laws to East Jerusalem). The Haram al-Sharif is administered, however, by the Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian-funded and administered Muslim religious trust for East Jerusalem with ties to the PA. The Israeli police have exclusive control of the Mughrabi Gate entrance to the compound and limit access to the compound from all entrances. The Waqf can object to entrance of particular persons, such as non-Muslim religious radicals, or to prohibited activities, such as prayer by non-Muslims [so, Jewish and Christian prayer is prohibited. and that's religious freedom?] or disrespectful clothing or behavior, but lacks effective authority to remove anyone from the site [no they don't. they throw stones.] In practice Waqf officials claimed that police often allowed religious radicals (such as Jews seeking to remove the mosques and to rebuild the ancient temple on the site) [if I don't agree to the removal of mosques idea but only want to pray, will the Waqf permit me?] and immodestly dressed persons to enter and often were not responsive to enforcing the site's rules. During Passover in 2007, Israeli police escorted more than 100 activists affiliated with the right-wing group "The Temple Mount Faithful" to enter the compound on two consecutive days, the second day while carrying a model of the Second Temple. [and nothing bad happened]

Non-Muslims may visit the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, with advance coordination with Waqf officials. The Israeli Government, as a matter of stated policy, has opposed worship at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount by non-Muslims since 1967. [and that's religious freedom?] Israeli police generally did not permit public prayer by non-Muslims and publicly indicated that this policy has not changed in light of the renewed visits of non-Muslims to the compound. However, Waqf officials contended that Israeli police, in contravention of their stated policy and the religious status quo, have allowed members of radical Jewish groups to enter and to worship at the site, including during Passover 2007. Representatives for these Jewish groups claimed successful attempts to pray inside the compound in interviews with the Israeli media. The Waqf interpreted police actions as part of an Israeli policy to incrementally reduce Waqf authority over the site and to give non-Muslims rights of worship in parts of the compound.

There were several violent clashes during the reporting period between Israeli police and Muslim worshippers on the Haram al-Sharif, which Waqf officials alleged were due to the large police contingent kept on the site. At times Muslim worshippers threw stones at police, and police fired tear gas and stun grenades at worshippers. Muslim worshippers also held demonstrations at the site to protest reported right-wing Israeli nationalist plans to damage the mosques or create a Jewish worship area at the site. Israeli security officials and police were generally proactive and effective in dealing with such threats.

Citing violence and security concerns, the Israeli Government has imposed a broad range of strict closures and curfews throughout the Occupied Territories since October 2000. These restrictions largely continued during the reporting period and resulted in significantly impeded freedom of access to places of worship in the West Bank for Muslims and Christians.

There were also disputes between the Muslim administrators of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and Israeli authorities regarding Israeli restrictions on Waqf attempts to carry out repairs and physical improvements on the compound and its mosques. Israeli authorities prevented the Waqf from conducting several improvement projects and removing debris from previous restorations to the site, alleging that the Waqf was attempting to alter the nature of the site or to discard antiquities of Jewish origin. Israeli authorities began excavations near the Mughrabi gate, preparing to build a permanent ramp onto the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Waqf officials were not allowed access to the excavations in early 2007 and claimed they were not consulted in any part of the planning process for either the excavations or the ramp that will be constructed to replace the existing ramp. At the end of this reporting period, the excavations were suspended.

(Kippah tip: EH)


Ashan said...

If this repulsive report and the continued criminal behavior of the Wakf and the Israeli police isn't outrageous enough, I read somewhere that next year UNESCO will declare the Temple Mount to be a holy MUSLIM site!!!

Something's gotta give.

YMedad said...

Like an arthquake move? see picture here