Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News - 2013-07-22
The Israeli government has given the Simon Wiesenthal Center the go-ahead to begin digging the foundation of its so-called Museum of Tolerance on parts of the historic 7th Century Mamilla cemetery (originally the Ma’man Allah cemetery) in the holy city.
The cemetery situated just half a kilometer west of the Old City's walls is reputed to contain the remains of some of Jerusalem's oldest, most celebrated families as well as those of religious leaders, pilgrims, officers and soldiers of Saladin's army, every-day Jerusalemites, and even companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
In its graves lie the secrets and stories of centuries of Palestinian history, most if not all of which managed to survived Persian siege, Christian crusades, Ottoman conquest, and British rule.
Hundreds of graves have already been dug up and desecrated to make room for the angled planes of the Tolerance center, and the museum's construction crews are now free to build on thousands more.
The Maariv newspaper reported that the municipality Finance Committee has allocated around $75,000 (about R 735,900) for the planning of the project, in cooperation with an Israeli company.
In response, Al-Aqsa Foundation for Religious Endowments and Heritage has issued a warning about the scheme which, it insists, is a flagrant violation of the sanctity of the deceased. "This is also a serious violation of the feelings of Muslims all over the world," said the foundation, "and a continuation of the crimes of the Israeli establishment in the largest and oldest Muslim cemetery in Palestine."
The Israeli authorities have already dug up hundreds of graves in order to build schools and playgrounds on the site. The foundation explained that the Israeli Ministry of Justice recently cancelled plans to build new courts on the same site.
A local and international campaign has been launched by Al-Aqsa Foundation against Israel's plans for the cemetery; there are at least 8 new projects planned.