DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN December 3-5, 1999 vol. 10, no. 230
NEWS & VIEWS
EGYPT'S GRAND MUFTI OPPOSED TO NAZARETH MOSQUE
Says It Would Be an Offense to Islam
ROME, DEC 1 (ZENIT).- Grand Mufti Nasr Farid Wassel of Egypt, the country's highest religious authority, says he is opposed to the construction of a mosque in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth because it would offend Islam and the prayers recited there would be invalid, the Mufti declared to the Lebanese newspaper "as-Safir."
"I ask our Muslim brothers of Nazareth to build the mosque at a different location in the city. This insistence has no value and is displeasing to Allah and his Prophet," he stated.
Considering whether or not the construction of the mosque as planned would give renewed strength to Islam, the Grand Mufti replied: "Islam's strength is in its tolerance and justice. I ask myself, what difference is there between that location and another? We must return to logic and respect the wishes of our brothers and fellow-citizens with whom we are united in relations whose interruption God would not forgive us."
"Those who pray in that mosque would take on a measure of responsibility for fueling the 'fitna' [internal dissensions between Christians and Muslims] and will have to answer to God and his Prophet for the evil he would inflict on the citizens. This goes for all those who give their consent to the construction. We would also be responsible for keeping silent in face of all that is happening, for which we shall have to answer before the Eternal Judge on the Last Day," the Mufti warned.
According to Egypt's highest religious authority, the Nazareth issue has nothing to do with Islam, which is "a religion of tolerance and peace, and the secret of its greatness is that it grants peace and security to the members of the other religions. We must not give our enemies a pretext for driving a wedge in our ranks, as we are one nation. We should be aware of the existence of hidden hands that fan the flames of this 'fitna.' We all know who it is who works to divide us for the purpose of defeating us separately," the Grand Mufti concluded.
Muslim leaders in Nazareth, nonetheless, are not heeding the Mufti's
words. Suleiman Abu Ahmed, the chairman of the United List in the
Nazareth municipal council accused "as-Safir" of being hostile to the
Islamic Movement in Israel. "It is possible that the paper fed the Mufti
false information to the effect that the mosque will be built on land
that was plundered from the Christian community," he alleged, adding
that the Mufti should himself visit Nazareth before passing judgment.
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NEWS & VIEWS