PARIS – The United Nations' cultural agency, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq have signed an agreement to finance the reconstruction of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last year by the Islamic State group. UNESCO announced Monday that the UAE will provide $50.4 million to finance the project, focusing on the restoration of the Al-Nouri Mosque, built in the 12th century and once famous for its leaning minaret. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said "this is a historic partnership, the largest and unprecedented cooperation to rebuild cultural heritage in Iraq ever." IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from the al-Nouri mosque in the summer of 2014. The extremists blew it up in June 2017 as Iraqi forces closed in.
Israel on Friday prohibited the Azan, the Muslim call to prayer, at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, also known as Al-Khalil, according to Palestinian Religious Endowments Minister Yousef Adais. In a press statement, Adais described the move as "a dangerous precedent" and "a cowardly breach of the freedom of worship". "Continued Israeli violations against the mosque clearly show that the occupation authorities, along with the settlers, are trying to exert total control over the area's Muslim holy sites," the minister asserted. In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli American Jewish settler, gunned down 29 Palestinian Muslims as they prayed at the mosque before being killed himself. Since then, the mosque - believed to have been built on the tomb of Prophet Ibrahim - has been divided into a Muslim section (45 percent) and a Jewish section (55 percent).
A curious yet uplifting image is doing the rounds on social media, after a solitary, unnamed man stood on the street outside a mosque in Australia over the weekend. The man stood outside the entrance to Yarralumla Mosque on Friday, holding a DIY sign of solidarity that read "Fellow Australians, I apologise for the religious bigots in our society, gov't and media." The man appeared just in time for those making their way to midday prayer. And the general consensus online is -- legend! A very concerned citizen showing a great gesture to his fellow citizens outside #Canberra mosque #auspol #Australia pic.twitter.com/SJvru1EwoS
"They were just outside the mosque about to get off from the bus and go into the mosque when they heard shooting and a lot of people running out and they saw someone wounded in front of them," Islam said. "And seeing that, they didn't get off the bus. About 10 minutes later they ran out of the bus and ran through Hagley Park and into the Hagley Oval."