Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Jordan starts major restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

AMMAN: As custodian of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jordan has begun the first major restoration in four centuries of the ancient walls of Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam.

The head of the project, Raef Najm, dismisses Israeli warnings that parts of the walls could collapse and says the work that started last week is part of a long-term program, with funds from Unesco.

"What we are undertaking now is the first real restoration of the walls of the mosque since the work done under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century," says Najm. "This is a historic mission aimed at preserving a humanitarian civilization ... which belongs not only to Muslims but to the entire world."


A spokeswoman for Israel's antiquities authorities, Onat Guez, says the Jordanian work at Al-Aqsa is being carried out in coordination with Israeli police.

But she insists that the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, some 100 meters from the mosque, was in danger of collapsing and needed urgent preservation work.

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