Mosque in Jerusalem Vandalized
16 Dec 2011 by Cindy Wooden
ROME (CNS) — The day after an ancient mosque
in Jerusalem was vandalized and burned, allegedly by
Jewish extremists, participants at a Rome conference on
sacred space called for absolute respect for all places of
Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars met Dec.
14-15 at Romes Pontifical University of St. Thomas to
discuss the theological, legal and sociological
implications of sacred space.
In the course of our deliberations, we were given
a reminder of how necessary and timely our exchanges
indeed are, as we received news of yet another incident of
mosque burning — even if a deserted mosque no longer in
use — this time in Jerusalem itself, a city holy to all three
religions, said a statement issued at the end of the
News reports said the 12th-century Nebi Akasha
Mosque has not been used for worship since Israel
declared its statehood in 1948. The reports said the attack
is believed to be part of a series of acts of vandalism by
Jewish extremists protesting the scheduled demolition of
Israeli settlements in the contested West Bank.
The scholars meeting in Rome said, We assert a
firm commitment to protect all spaces holy to all
The Rome meeting was sponsored by the
interdisciplinary program in law and religion at The
Catholic University of Americas Columbus School of
Law in Washington, the International Center for Law and
Religion Studies at Brigham Young University in Utah
and the John Paul II Center at Romes Pontifical
University of St. Thomas, known as the Angelicum.
The scholars said protecting sacred space is
principled as well as practical. In principle, any house in
which God is called in truth and sincerity is sanctified by
the approach to God and must be respected by all. In
practical terms, any act of destruction can return in short
time to the perpetrator, generating an endless cycle of
retaliation that is contrary to Gods glory.
Sacred sites and houses of worship should not be
harmed, even in times of conflict, the scholars said.
Respect for the sacred space of others is not only
a sign of respect to the one God we all recognize, but also
a concrete way of learning to practice respect for one
another, they said.
Keeping holy sites out of conflict is a small step
to humanizing a difficult situation and to remembering
that God is our highest value and aspiration, they said.
Tags: Jerusalem Interreligious Muslim Jewish