JERUSALEM (JWN)—Arsonists desecrated and set fire to an unused mosque in central Jerusalem that is traditionally revered as the burial site of Akasha, a friend of the Prophet Muhammad.
The assailants blackened the interior walls and daubed graffiti on the outside reading “A good Arab is a dead Arab,” “Kahane [the late extremist Meir Kahane] was right,” “price tag,” and “Muhammad is a pig.”
The Nebi Akasha Mosque was reportedly built in the 12th century on the burial site of Saladin’s soldiers. Another tradition ascribes it as the burial site of Akasha. Being located in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, the mosque was abandoned during the War of Independence and served as a municipal warehouse.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat denounced the desecration, saying that such violence cannot be tolerated in Israel’s capital, where peaceful coexistence is essential.
There have been three arson attacks on mosques in the past half a year. In June, a mosque in the West Bank village of Qusra, near Nablus, was torched shortly after police demolished three illegal structures in the settlement outpost of Migron. Extremist settlers were suspected, but no one was arrested.
The mosque at Tuba-Zangaria, a Bedouin village in northern Israel, was set alight in October, causing heavy damage. Although the words “price tag” were daubed on the exterior walls, and the police arrested a number of suspects, they were subsequently released.
Last Thursday arsonists attempted to torch the mosque in the Palestinian village of Burkina, but succeeded in setting fire only to the entrance. Instead, they set fire to two residents’ cars. “Price tag” was spray-painted on the mosque walls.