Oct 28 2014
By Daoud Kuttab
While daily protests in East Jerusalem were triggered by the brutal July 2 burning alive of a Palestinian teenager from Shuafat, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the emotional trigger for Palestinians has and continues to be the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Daily attempts byradical Israeli Jews to enter the Muslim holy place and lay Jewish claims to it continue to produce raw anger and rage.
They are mostly older women, mothers with grown children and many grandmothers who have taken it upon themselves to protect the mosque compound from Jewish worshipers simply with their physical presence. The women, commonly referred to as murabitat (roughly translated, steadfast) basically hold group classes in the mosque courtyards and keep an eye on Jewish extremists attempting to pray. The status quo allows Jews to enter the courtyards on the same basis as foreign tourists. This means they are allowed to visit during non-Muslim prayer hours as long as they are modestly dressed. Attempts by Jewish fundamentalists to pray in the mosque compound are not allowed.
The women have organized themselves in three levels of classes: Literacy class for those needing to learn, read and write, general high-school level classes and university level advanced courses. They also learn Islamic tajweed, the musical chanting of Quranic verses. They set up plastic chairs and tables near the Mograbi gate, which has been a target of UNESCO oversight missions. It is the only gate to the mosque area that is controlled solely by Israeli police. All other gates have a joint guard of armed Israeli police with unarmed Islamic waqf guards, who are on the payroll of the Jordanian Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs. Continue Reading »