Friday Mosque Watch

Posted: December 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today we had our usual Friday “Mosque Watch” where we, along with the Christian Peace Maker Team of Hebron monitor access to worship at Friday Mosque noon services. This happens at Ibrahimi  Mosque in the old city of Hebron which is currently under Israeli control. Much of the area near the Mosque and much of the main road which was used prior to the second intifada for travel to the Mosque is restricted and travel in these areas is limited to walking or is completely forbidden for Palestinians. Despite these obstacles, hundreds of Muslim Palestinians come to pray each Friday. Today was an exceptional day in that so many families showed up for prayer that there was not enough room inside the Mosque to pray, so many of the men carried out their faith  just outside the entry to the Mosque by praying on payer mats they placed on the cold stone court-yard of the Mosque. It was a moving experience seeing so many individuals carry out their faith, especially since security is so high in this area on Fridays.  Due to “security reasons” the Israeli military  places extra soldiers around the Mosque area on Fridays including  the entry to the Mosque and three of the main checkpoint entries for Palestinians.

 

Right before  praying began, two soldiers entered the  courtyard of the Mosque. It seemed like excessive security that was not needed since the only activity happening in the area was prayer.  Amazingly,  it did not intimidate those who had come to pray and they continued praying  as if the soldiers where not present.

Upset by the use of what was perceived as an  intimidation technique, one of the Christian Peace Maker Team members told the soldiers to move out of the way and to leave the men to pray in peace. The soldiers did not continue to walk though the crowd, but rather went to the roof top  of one of the nearby buildings and kept their machine guns in prone positions which they pointed at the crowd that was praying. Praying continued peacefully and all Mosque attendees left the Mosque without incident.

I found the day to be quite moving on many levels. As a Christian I find it very sad that an entire community has to worship under such extreme military conditions, but I find the determination of the community to maintain their dignity and rituals of their religious life remarkable. I also was moved by what I witnessed to be a Christian expression of faith by the CPT member who took a stand for her Muslim brothers and sisters’ basic human right to worship. I found this a profound example of how people of many faiths can work together to keep a peaceful presence in the world, even when living and working under occupation.

 

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