The mosque where the suspected hate crime occured
Photo: AFP
'Death to Arabs' spray painted on walls
Photo: AFP

Mosque torching 'could ignite religious war'

Residents of Jerusalem area where mosque was torched warn act threatens Jewish-Arab coexistence in city

Residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood where an abandoned mosque was torched in the early hours of Wednesday morning said the arson attack was "an act of ugly racists."


Graffiti defaming Islam and Arabs on the building's walls, as well as graffiti reading "price tag" were also found at the scene of the crime, less than a day after the right-wing extremist raid on the Ephraim Brigade IDF base in the West Bank.


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"These are crazy people who are set to ignite a religious war in the city. I hope the Arab population understands that this is a minority," said one local. He added that vandals had already tried to torch the mosque in the past: "There are a lot of hooligans here." The resident made it clear that "this is not our way."


המסגד שהוצת ברחוב שטראוס (צילום: עומרי אפרים)

The torched mosque (Photo: Omri Efraim)


Bafel, a resident of east Jerusalem who works nearby said: "Jews and Arabs can live together in this city, but not like this. We can't have the people who did this walking the streets freely."


MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al( arrived at the mosque on Wednesday And said: "Whoever carried out this act is a person with no God and no values. He is the enemy of Islam and Judaism. This is a criminal act and should be seen as an act of terror.


"It is the government's responsibility to protect the holy places. Whoever tried to burn this mosque wants to create war in this region and the government's silence gives them a green light to do so."


Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat strongly denounced the attempted arson: "We must show zero-tolerance for any kind of violence and maintain the coexistence in the city," he said.


Meanwhile, the IDF said that two Palestinian cars were set on fire in the West Bank overnight, one south of Nablus and the other near Qalqilya.


Reaching danger point

Political officials were quick to react to the recent violence, with the Head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz saying: "I call on the prime minister, the time for denouncements is over. Now it's time for action. Put an end to this sub-criminal and terrorist activity."


In light of the recent violence, social organizations battling for Jewish-Arab cooperation and equality in Israel are demanding that the state declare a state of emergency: "It is inconceivable that we wake up nearly every morning to hear about these dangerous, unbridled rampages by right wing extremists who endanger the lives of Arabs and peace activists.


"We are concerned, and hope the police shares our concerns, that the spray painting of 'death to Arabs' and the torching of mosques will not end with that but might actually get to the point where there are fatalities."


Dozens of Arab from Jerusalem arrived on Wednesday at the mosque and condemned the arson attacks; they expressed their anger against the Jerusalem municipality for using the abandoned mosque as a warehouse. The mosque has not been in use for a decade.


Rabbi Yaakov Levy added that "These things should not be done and we as rabbis say – don't set fire to any mosque, just like you mustn’t set fire to synagogues."


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פרסום ראשון: 12.14.11, 12:07
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