High Court Rules Be'er Sheva Mosque to Be Used as Islamic Museum

Court rules that the mosque won't be able to be used for prayer, but rejects Be'er Sheva municipality request to turn it into a museum.

The High Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that a large mosque in Be'er Sheva would be used for an Islamic museum, rejecting the city's request that it be turned into a general museum.

A petition on the issue was submitted to the court by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel in 2002. The petition requests that the mosque be once again used as a house of worship, which it was until the War of Independence in 1948.

The court said that the petitioners have the right to turn to a state planning committee and request that the mosque, which is currently being used as a museum, be designated as a place of worship. If the committee rejects this request, they can take the decision to court.

Judges Salim Joubran and Esther Hayot ruled against the request to turn the mosque into a general museum, ruling instead that it should be turned into a museum for the Muslim population in the area.

The mosque in Be'er Sheva. Alberto Dankberg

Joubran criticized the Be'er Sheva municipality's position, which said that using the mosque for prayer would create violence and disturb the public order.

The struggle to have the mosque used for prayer has been going on since the 70's, but the municipality has continuously refused the request – announcing instead of their intention to turn it into a museum.

Muslim residents of Be'er Sheva as well as Bedouin living nearby have been prevented from praying in the mosque, despite repeated requests to do so.