Khamis, 17 Februari 2011
Vandalization of Holy Places
A mini documentary on Al Saud's systematic destruction of Mecca and Madina.
The Demolition of Islamic Heritage in Mecca and Madina Millions flock to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage, a duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. But beyond the ritual scene, there appears a controversial and sad aspect of the holy Mecca, which began to lose its spirituality and historical identity.
Many Saudi intellectuals, mainly from the Makkah region, are full of anger in response to the government's plans to wipe out the legacy of Islam and replace it with skyscrapers, starbucks, and malls. "One cannot help but feel sad seeing the Kaaba, a dot so small between all those glass and iron giants,"
"Long before Islam, Arabs didn't dare live in the circle of 'al-haram', meaning the sacred area of the mosque," They spent their days in the holy city and moved out with nightfall.
Sami Angawi, the founder and former director of Mecca's Hajj Research Center and opponent of the destruction of Mecca's historic sites, estimates that over 300 antiquity sites in Mecca and Medina have already been destroyed, such as the house of the first caliph, Abu Bakr, which was levelled to make room for the Mecca Hilton Hotel. (According to Ivor McBurney, a spokesman for Hilton, "We saw the tremendous opportunities to tap into Saudi Arabia's religious tourism segment.) "It's not just our heritage, it's the evidence of the story of the Prophet," What can we say now? 'This parking lot was the first school of Islam'? 'There used to be a mountain here where Mohammed made a speech'? ... What's the difference between history and legend?" "Evidence." Saudi authorities have authorized the destruction of hundreds of antiquities, such as an important eighteenth-century Ottoman fortress in Mecca that was razed to make way for the Abraj Al Bait Towers -- a move the Turkish foreign minister condemned as "cultural genocide." An ancient house belonging to the Prophet Mohammed was recently razed to make room for a public toilet facility. An ancient mosque belonging to Abu Bakr has now been replaced by an ATM machine. And the sites of Mohammed's historic battles at Uhud and Badr have been paved to put up a parking lot. The remaining historical religious sites in Mecca can be counted on one hand and will likely not make it much past the next hajj, "It is incredible how little respect is paid to the house of God."
The government accelerated the tempo of destruction of the Islamic ancient sites during the course of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. the Saudi government capitalized on the concentration of the world attention on the Iraqi-Kuwait crises, thus decided to wipe out shrines and houses of the prophet, and his Companions. A pamphlet published by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, endorsed by Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and distributed at the Prophet's Mosque, where The Prophet Mohammed, Abu Bakr, and Omar bin Al Khattab are buried, reads, "The green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet's Mosque," This shocking sentiment was echoed in a speech by the late Muhammad ibn Al Uthaymeen, one of Saudi Arabia's most prominent Wahhabi clerics, who delivered sermons in Mecca's Grand Mosque for over 35 years: "We hope one day we'll be able to destroy the green dome of the Prophet Mohammed," he said, in a recording. Writing in response to the article, Prince Turki al-Faisal said that Saudi Arabia was spending more than $19bn (£11bn) preserving and maintaining these two holy sites. "[We are aware] how important the preservation of this heritage is, not just to us but to the millions of Muslims from around the world who visit the two holy mosques every year. It is hardly something we are going to allow to be destroyed." Today there are no fewer than 20 structures remaining in Mecca that date back to the time of the Prophet 1400 years ago. The litany of this lost history includes the house of Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet, demolished to make way for public lavatories; the house of Abu Bakr, the Prophet's companion, now the site of the local Hilton hotel; the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of the Prophet, and the Mosque of abu-Qubais, now the location of the King's palace in Mecca.