Reported Halt to Nazareth-Mosque Work Is Denied

Franciscan Custody Blames Israelis, Not Muslims, for Ongoing Construction

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JERUSALEM, NOV. 16, 2001 ( Despite news reports to the contrary, the Israeli government has not blocked the construction of the Nazareth mosque, a spokesman for the Holy Land Custody said.

«Work on the foundations continues every night,» Father David Jaeger told the Vatican agency Fides today. «We checked for ourselves last night. These reports are pure inventions.»

Some news agencies said that the land authorities had blocked work on the mosque. In fact, the preparation of the site goes ahead by night, and Israeli authorities have promised that building permits will be granted shortly, Father Jaeger reported.

The Muslim community has no spiritual need for the mosque since it already has other places of worship. It is simply the desire of a local fundamentalist group, which in past years attacked Easter pilgrims in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation.

«We are not in conflict with the Muslims; the Israeli government is to blame,» Father Jaeger emphasized.

He added: «The reliable Jerusalem newspaper Haaretz quotes the Home Ministry as saying that it intends to continue and even accelerate all that is necessary for the building of the Nazareth mosque.»

Father Jaeger continued: «Despite calls from all over the Christian world, from the highest to the lowest, the Israeli authorities are determined to allow the building to go ahead. They want the mosque on that site.»

«The government formally deliberated that the mosque should be built on that site, and it falls to the government to formally revoke this deliberation,» he added.

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