Al-Aqsa preacher’s voice echoes across Jerusalem devoid of Ramadan crowds

Source: Swiss Info

By Stephen Farrell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An imam standing atop an 18-foot pulpit in a near-empty Al-Aqsa Mosque delivered the first Friday prayers of Ramadan in Jerusalem, his voice echoing across an empty and windswept plateau almost devoid of worshippers.

In historic scenes rarely, if ever, witnessed at the third holiest site in Islam, below him kneeled only a handful of Muslim clerics in facemasks, staying several feet apart because of coronavirus restrictions.

“We ask God to have mercy on us and all of humanity and to save us from this lethal pandemic,” the imam said.

In normal years during Ramadan Friday prayers Muslim worshippers gather by the tens of thousands on the tree-lined hilltop plateau that lies at the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City and is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

But this year the 35-acre compound around Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock was almost deserted, just a tiny handful of faithful standing in a short line, rising and kneeling in unison.

Few also turned up outside the walls of the Old City, just 10 people – the maximum allowed by Israeli authorities – praying outside Lion’s Gate facing the Mount of Olives.

Israel has reported nearly 15,000 cases of coronavirus, with 193 deaths. In the Palestinian Territories around 350 cases have been confirmed, with two fatalities.

In March, Muslim religious authorities closed the gates to worshippers due to the coronavirus epidemic, and this has been extended throughout Ramadan.

Jewish and Christian religious authorities have imposed similar precautionary measures at their holy sites, including the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Giles Elgood)


6 replies

  1. Interesting you say “ Israel has reported nearly 15,000 cases of coronavirus, with 193 deaths. In the Palestinian Territories around 350 cases have been confirmed, with two fatalities.“
    I guess the Palestinians got it wrong.
    They initially stated that they got no help from the Jews
    Liars and their pants will be on fire.
    An Iraqi told me that they will smile at you and then knife you in your back
    Although not as dramatic this is an example
    Jews are dying and yet give them aid!
    In the Torah there is no bitterness towards the Pharaohs of Egypt. Indeed it praise them by stating God bless you for allowing us in when we were running away from the famine in Babylon.
    Because of their own doing they will land up as the North America Indians in North America
    Imagine nowhere was their when a European people appointed the inhabitants posts in the army Supreme Court parliament etc
    Then they get knifed in the back !
    The Jews were returning home. The prophet Mohammed PBUH recognized the Jewish state.
    The Palestinians cane from Egypt Syria etc.
    They have countless Muslim Arab states to go to.
    The Jews have one!

    • I dont quite get what you are saying about the native Americans. It was their own fault that they got slaughtered by the immigrants?

  2. Dr. Sussman I am waiting for your article about Jewish and Palestinian coexistence and collaboration.


    Your Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau is perfect example of genuine interfaith tolerance and universal brotherhood. He is always there to celebrate with people of all faiths and his recent Passover and Ramadan messages are very inspiring and give me hope for a better future for all of us.

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