Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tourist hotels to be built near shrine of Ezekiel


The battle to save the shrine of Ezekiel from being converted into a mosque may be won, with the revelation that three tourist hotels are to be built in the nearby town of al-Kifl in central Iraq.

Baghdad-born Professor Shmuel Moreh received the news in a letter from a friend. The letter says that the people of al-Kifl are happy that the hotels, presumably for pilgrims, will be built. The letter also affirms that the authorities will work with UNESCO to preserve the Jewish character of the shrine.

It is not known on what information the friend has based his letter, but Professor Moreh deems him an influential man with connections.

Professor Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has been spearheading a public campaign to preserve the shrine. Point of No Return has played its small part by setting up a petition requesting the immediate intervention of UNESCO and other western bodies. The petition has attracted over 280 signatures.

The latest campaign to save the shrine follows news reports that the Shi'a waqf, which is in charge of restoration work, wished to turn the site into a mosque, although a Shi'a Ayatollah has since denounced the plan. Fears for the future of the site were raised in January when it was revealed that workmen had accidentally painted over Hebrew inscriptions above the tomb.