Muslims join Dolphinarium area building protests

Muslim residents say they will not let the landmark Hassan Beck mosque be blocked off or surrounded by buildings.

The Islamic Movement has joined Tel Aviv residents' protests against the planned building of two towers on the beachfront on the current Dolphinarium site, reports Yediot Tel Aviv. Muslim residents say they will not let the landmark Hassan Beck mosque be blocked off or surrounded by buildings, and say their struggle is not just for the residents of Jaffa but for all Arabs in Israel. According to the report, the recent approval by the Israel Lands Authority of a major building plan for the neglected Dolphinarium area has set off a storm of protest from Jewish and now Muslim residents. The plan would see the Dolphinarium torn down and the promenade extended, but would also allow German-Jewish developer Yosef Buchman to build a 28-storey hotel and a 36-storey residential tower on the site. The work would encroach on land currently used as a car park by visitors to the mosque, and according to an Islamic Movement spokesman in Jaffa, would prevent worshipers from gaining access to the mosque. "What do they want, to turn the place into a museum? Where are worshipers supposed to park?" the spokesman asked. He said the city had no right to requisition part of the mosque's land and that no one had consulted Muslim residents on the plans. He also said the issue was "very sensitive" and that local Muslims would do everything they legally could to prevent the historic mosque from being surrounded by "concrete towers." He said Arab and Jewish residents were planning to meet to discuss how best to fight the plans. "The Hassan Beck mosque represents not just Jaffa but all the Arabs and Muslims in the country. No one should harm a place like this, not even for several billionaires," he said. A municipal spokesman said the city had no intention of harming the mosque, and the plans would in fact have the opposite effect, with development of the neglected area only improving the environment around the mosque. The spokesman said worshipers at the mosque would be shown the plans to allay their doubts.