20 April 2013
PALESTINE REFLECTION: How far would you
go in order to Worship?
CPT and other internationals monitor the checkpoint
at the Ibrahimi Mosque and the area around the Mosque to see how Palestinians
are treated when they go through the checkpoint.
Treatment at the mosque checkpoint can vary greatly.
It is an infringment in people’s rights to have to pass through this checkpoint
anyway. Some then go through the added discomfort of the Israeli Army ordering
them to remove their belts. The other day CPTers witnessed Israeli soldiers
ordering a man to undress down to his vest undershirt. Imagine the humiliation
of having to undress in front of so many people queueing for the checkpoint. There
is no option but to comply or face possible arrest.
Last Friday, CPTers witnessed two young men being
detained at a checkpoint on one of the roads going to the mosque. Israeli soldiers
held the two young men for over half an hour. They had been on their way to attend
Friday afternoon prayer at the mosque, Friday is the holy day for Muslims and
attending the Friday prayer is an important part of their religious observance.
Whilst being detained, the young men heard the call to prayer. Not knowing how
long they would be detained, they carried out their prayer right then and there,
kneeling in the street and bowing down before God. In a situation where people
could feel powerless, these young men reclaimed their power by not allowing the
soldiers to make them miss their worship but rather worshipped in front of them.
For me this is an act of nonviolent resistance. The
Israeli Army here tries to disrupt the daily life of people and to prevent them
from carrying out important activities such as the Friday prayers, making life
hard for people here. These two young men showed their sumud (steadfastness) by praying as they were being detained. In
the UK many people do not perform public acts of worship for fear of being
ridiculed. These men not only performed a public act of worship but did so in
the face of oppression. Not many people I know would have such strength.