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Franciscan Custody protests against Nazareth mosque building resumption

Work resumed earlier this week on the laying of foundations for the Nazareth Mosque that the Israeli government has conceded to Muslim radicals.

In an official statement, distributed by the Rome-based news agency Fides, the Custody of the Holy Land deplored the authorisation given by the government to this project and calls for the immediate withdrawal of the building permit.

The statement signed by Fr David-Maria A. Jaeger, OFM, asserted that the building activity is taking place "in total disregard of the oft expressed feelings and pleas of the world-wide Christian community".

The statement recalled that the Holy See, Catholic hierarchies, other Christian leaders have repeatedly and insistently appealed to the government of Israel not to carry out the decision criticised by many Muslim and Jewish leaders, including the Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and Imam Hussein Tantawi, Egyptian Sheik of Al-Azhar.

Fr Jaeger said that the Holy Land Custody has repeatedly called on the Israeli government to rescind what to him was an "incomprehensible" decision. He is still waiting for a reply to the Custody's latest message addressed to the Prime Minister some time ago.

Access to the Church of the Annunciation is proving difficult while the mosque is being constructed. Fr Jaeger claims that pilgrims on their way to and from the shrine have been stoned and insulted by fundamentalist Muslims squatting on the building site.

"Building the mosque here will in effect put this Holy Place in a state of permanent siege," the statement warns, "and make its gate a gathering place for the most hostile elements". Problems underlined often by the Custody, but with no response".

Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land