A centuries-old mosque has been converted into a nightclub, bar and events hall by Israel in the northern district of Safed, another chapter of the ongoing cultural genocide in the country.
Located in the northern district, the city of Safed was once home to 12,000 Palestinians and was the birthplace of Mahmoud Abbas before the area was ethnically cleansed by the Israeli state. The population of Safed now stands at 32,000, 99.2% of which are Jewish, with no significant Arab population.
The Al-Ahmar Mosque is one of the most historic and significant mosques in the city and has been “repurposed” several times since Safed was occupied in 1948, including use as a Jewish school, a Likud campaign centre and a warehouse. The “repurposing” of the mosque as a bar and nightclub however is an added insult and provocation, Islam strictly forbidding the sale and consumption of alcohol.
Khair Tabari, secretary of Safed and Tiberias Islamic Endowment has been trying to save the mosque for many years and has documents which prove ownership of the mosque. Requesting that the building be returned to the endowment, he is awaiting a decision from a Nazareth court on the matter.
“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… 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.”Khair Tabari, secretary of Safed and Tiberias Islamic Endowment
Tabari called for differing political and popular bodies to cooperate with him to save the mosque from further violation. While he is taking a brave stand, it seems that sadly that yet another piece of Palestinian heritage is to erased from memory.
Other historical Palestinian mosques and buildings have been similarly “repurposed” throughout the city with the 14th-century Greek mosque being transformed into an art gallery. The new gallery expressly forbids prayer.