Dubai: Muslim groups expressed outrage on
Thursday over plans to hold a wine festival in the Israeli city of
Beer el-Sabe, which is due to take place next month in a courtyard
outside a building formerly used as a mosque.
The southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel has said the
festival constitutes an “unforgiveable sin” and is “a harsh blow
to Muslim sensitivities,” according to Israeli media reports.
Islam prohibits consumption of alcohol.
The Islamic Movement, (also known as the Islamic Movement in 48
Palestine) is a movement aiming to advocate Islam among Israeli
Arabs and does not accept the existence of Israel. The group said
that even the publicity for the wine festival is an insult to
Muslim sensitivities, Al Arabiya reported.
The 6th Annual “Salut Wine and Beer Festival” to be held in Beer
el-Sabe (Beer Sheva) on the 5-6 September 2012 will feature
alcoholic beverages from about 30 breweries and wineries from
around the country, in addition to imports.
It will also include a number of musical performances, according
to the Adalah organization, the Legal Center for Arab Minority
Rights in Israel.
On Thursday, Adalah announced it had sent a legal letter to the
Israeli Attorney General, the Minister of Culture and Sports, and
the Municipality of Beer el-Sabe demanding that they intervene and
cancel the festival.
“This is a sensitive issue that endangers the interests of all
Arab citizens of the state,” the organization’s attorney Adalah
Attorney Aram Mahameed wrote in the letter.
“The use of the courtyard of the Mosque for drinking alcohol is a
red line banned in Islam, and is completely incompatible with the
mosque’s intended use for prayer", Al Arabiya quoted from Adalah’s
“The letter adds that the Wine Festival, along with other ongoing
events, flagrantly violate the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision,
issued in June 2011, ordering the mosque to be turned into a
museum of Islamic history and culture,” Adalah’s statement reads.
In 2002, Adalah had petitioned that the mosque be reopened for
prayer. It had been open for prayer until 1948, when it was turned
into a prison and later a courthouse until 1952. From 1953 until
1991, it was opened as a “Museum of the Negev,” and then stood
empty and neglected from 1991.
The mosque was built during the Ottoman Era in 1906.