Palestinians connect to Jerusalem holy shrine with 'selfies'
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...