Muslims decry ‘desecration’ at capital’s Mamilla Cemetery

Rally comes after 300 phony tombs erected at the site.

Mamilla Cemetery 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Mamilla Cemetery 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Despite what city officials have called “clear and indisputable evidence” of some 300 fraudulent tombstones that were discovered – and subsequently demolished – inside an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem in recent weeks, a handful of demonstrators arrived at the burial site on Wednesday morning to protest what they labeled the city’s “desecration” of the cemetery.
Nearly two dozen Muslim demonstrators descended on the city’s Mamilla Cemetery, a centuries-old Islamic burial site in the heart of Jerusalem, at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday and began chanting slogans about the recent developments there.
Last week, the Jerusalem Municipality released photographs and a clear timeline of what officials described as “one of the largest deceptions in recent years,” detailing how “Islamic officials” had used permits obtained for the purpose of cleaning and renovating tombstones at the site to instead erect hundreds of “fictitious graves” on a neighboring plot of land.
City officials categorically condemned the move, saying the officials’ only goal was to “illegally seize state lands,” and began demolishing the fake headstones and tombs that had been set up in the area.
All of that work was done in close coordination with the Antiquities Authority, which assigned experts to the site to first identify and then verify the phony headstones before they were cleared away.
Nonetheless, the Islamic Movement has decried the city’s actions, and accused the municipality of razing ancient graves inside the cemetery.
Wednesday’s protest appeared to be a continuation of those claims.
Demonstrators who arrived at the site alleged that the city was “desecrating the holy site” and yelled slogans denouncing the municipality’s work to clear the fictitious headstones.