Mosque of Omar (Bethlehem)

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This article is about mosque in Bethlehem. For the mosque with the same name in Jerusalem, see Mosque of Omar.
Mosque of Omar
Bethlehem-Manger-Square.jpg
Mosque of Omar
Basic information
Location Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories
Affiliation Islam
Architectural description
Architectural type Mosque
Completed 1860
Specifications
Minaret(s) 1

The Mosque of Omar (Arabic: مسجد عمر‎) is the oldest and only mosque in the old city of Bethlehem, located in Manger Square, near the Church of the Nativity.

History[edit]

The mosque is named after Omar (Umar) ibn al-Khattab (c. 581–644), the second Rashidun Muslim Caliph. Having conquered Jerusalem, Omar had traveled to Bethlehem in 637 CE to issue a law that would guarantee respect for the shrine and safety for Christians and clergy.[1] Only four years after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Omar reportedly prayed at the location of the mosque.[2]

The mosque was built in 1860,[2] but did not experience renovation until 1955, during Jordanian control of the city.[1] The land used for its construction was donated by the Greek Orthodox Church.[2] In the past, before the advent of light bulbs, it was common for Muslims and Christians in Bethlehem to offer olive oil to light up the surroundings of the mosque, evidence of religious coexistence in the city.[1]

Tensions[edit]

On February 20, 2006, the Dalai Lama canceled his visit to the mosque, among other places, due to pressure from the government of China. The Palestinian National Authority had requested the cancellation. A foreign ministry official, Majdi al-Khaldi, told reporters,

At the request of the Chinese government, we have not received or dealt with him given his separatist ambitions for Tibet.... Given our friendly relations with the Chinese government, which supports the Palestinian people, we asked the local (Bethlehem) authorities as well as civil society groups not to receive him and they acquiesced with our request.[3][4]

In February 2007, Israel's Shin Bet security agency arrested 20 men who were allegedly recruited for a "Hamas-linked cell" by a Muslim cleric in the Mosque of Omar.[5] Nevertheless, the mosque remained peaceful when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited on Christmas Eve 2007.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Mosque of Omar GeoCities: Bethlehem Homepage
  2. ^ a b c Mosque of Omar (Bethlehem) Atlas Travels and Tourism Agency.
  3. ^ "Palestinians refuse Dalai Lama visit again". [dead link]
  4. ^ "Dalai Lama visit". Middle East Times. House and Land Rights Network. February 20, 2006. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Israel nabs 20 terror suspects". UPI. February 5, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Peace talks spark tourist influx into Bethlehem". CBC News. Associated Press. December 24, 2007. 

Coordinates: 31°42′16.34″N 35°12′20.03″E / 31.7045389°N 35.2055639°E / 31.7045389; 35.2055639