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Thirteenth Century Palestinian mosque 'converted to nightclub' in Israel

Palestinian mosque which was turned into an art gallery by Orthodox Jews in Safed [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 14 April, 2019

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A 13th century Palestinian mosque has been turned into a nightclub in Safed, northern Israel.

A centuries-old Palestinian mosque in the northern Safed district of Israel has been converted into a bar, al-Quds al-Arabi reported Wednesday.

Al-Ahmar Mosque has been repurposed several times since 1948 - first into a Jewish school, then an election campaigns centre, then a clothing shop and now a bar and events hall.

Khair Tabari, secretary of Safed and Tiberias Islamic Endowment, has been trying to rescue the mosque for years.

He has requested for the mosque to be returned to the endowment and is awaiting a ruling from a Nazareth court.

The mosque - its name changed from al-Ahmar mosque to Khan al-Ahmar, was turned into a bar and wedding hall by a firm affiliated with the Israeli Safed municipality, reported al-Quds al-Arabi.

"I felt dizzy when I noticed the vandalism inside the mosque, as can be seen by the remains of Qu'ranic verses which were removed from the pulpit and replaced by the Ten Commandments in Hebrew," Tabari told al-Quds al-Arabi.

The mosque, built in 1276, has great historical and architectural value, according to historian Dr. Mustafa Abbasi.

"Al-Ahmar Mosque derives its name from its red stones. Today, it is used in various ways but not as a prayer space for Muslims," the Safed native said.

The other historical mosques in Safed have similar stories. The Greek mosque, built in 1319, was transformed into an art gallery in which praying is forbidden

Thousands of Palestinians - including the family of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - were uprooted when they fled Safad in 1948, before Jewish paramilitary forces took control. There is no significant Arab population today.

"I visited Safed before, once," President Abbas told Israeli media. "But I want to see Safed. It's my right to see it, but not to live there."

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