Palestinians connect to Jerusalem holy shrine with 'selfies'

Tue Jul 7, 2015 1:46pm EDT
 
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By Sinan Abu Meizer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinians young and old have jumped on a trend for taking "selfies" at Al Aqsa, the 8th century Muslim shrine in Jerusalem, both as a personal memento and for relatives prevented from visiting the ancient compound.

While selfies are hardly new, Palestinians have embraced the phenomenon during the holy month of Ramadan as a way of showing their presence at Islam's third holiest site.

"We took it as a memory, because maybe we won't be able to come again next Ramadan," said Shorouq, a young woman from the occupied West Bank snapping pictures with her friend Shahira, both dressed in brightly colored headscarves in the sunshine.

"We took a selfie with the Dome of the Rock!" said Shahira, referring to the golden-domed, ornately tiled octagon, from where the Prophet Mohammad is said to have ascended to heaven.

The shrine-selfie is also popular among Jews, who refer to the area as Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism and the site of a Jewish temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Jews are allowed to visit the area in small numbers, but like other non-Muslims they are forbidden to pray, a source of increasing religious tension in Jerusalem.

For a Special Report examining the issue, click here [here:DOME.pdf]

Israel, which controls access to the ancient stone plaza lined by cypress trees and fountains, initially issued a large number of permits for Palestinians to visit this Ramadan.   Continued...

 
Palestinian Hussam Abu Daba'a (C), 55, from the West Bank city of Hebron, takes a selfie photo with friends and relatives in front of the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, during the holy month of Ramadan, July 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Ammar Awad