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CAIR: Calif. Muslims Renew Call to Stop Desecration of Jerusalem Cemetery by LA’s Wiesenthal Center

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 8/10/15) – The Greater Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today renewed its call for the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center to stop its desecration of Mamilla (Ma’manullah) Cemetery in Jerusalem.

 According to historians, the site of a Wiesenthal Center “Museum of Tolerance,†which is scheduled to open in 2017, was once the largest Muslim cemetery in Palestine. Companions of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and Islamic jurists and scholars are said to be buried there. Along with the graves of Muslims, the cemetery contains the remains of Christian crusaders. Burials in the cemetery continued until the 1948 Israeli occupation of Jerusalem.

In response to an investigation by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Israeli government claimed in 1986 that “no project exists for the deconsecration of the site and that, on the contrary, the site and its tombs are to be safeguarded.â€

The Wiesenthal Center has falsely claimed that the land it is building on is a parking lot and that there have been no protests regarding building on the cemetery in the past 50 years.

SEE: An Intolerable Spot for a Museum (Forward)

The controversy over the desecration was reignited earlier this month when a cafe opened on the cemetery site.

SEE: Muslims in Jerusalem Decry Cafe Built on Cemetery (Al Jazeera)

“It is disgraceful that a California-based organization would go ahead with plans to desecrate a cemetery of any kind, let alone one with such religious and historical significance,†said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. “The Simon Wiesenthal Center should immediately cease construction of its Museum of ‘Intolerance’ and find a more suitable location, one that actually matches its stated goals.â€

In 2008, CAIR-LA launched an online petition drive to halt the desecration of the Muslim cemetery.

SEE: Urge Wiesenthal Center to Halt Construction of Museum on Muslim Cemetery

At that time, CAIR-LA also joined with three American Jewish groups in calling for a halt to the Wiesenthal Center’s building plans.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Ojaala Ahmad, 714-776-1847, 714-851-4851, oahmad@cair.com

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