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Foundations of mosque next to Basilica of the Annunciation razed
Bulldozers destroyed the controversial, partly built mosque in Nazareth next to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth this morning, marking a significant turn in a six-year-old battle between the city's Christians and Muslims over the structure.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Muslim leaders expecting violence during the demolition, but reports, "tempers later cooled, and about 200 Muslim worshippers gathered peacefully for midday prayers in a nearby road, which police had closed to traffic."

Still, the battle—which broke out in violent riots in 1999—may not be over. "There are 5,000 unemployed people in Nazareth—most of them are Muslims," says Salem Sharara, an official with the Islamic Movement. "Do you really think they will not go there every day to try to reclaim the mosque?" Sharara's group has promised to reclaim the mosque, the Post reports. "We understand that this is a very sensitive issue. That is why we are willing to limit the construction from five minarets and five stories to one each," the Islamic Movement said.

But so far, the Nazareth District Court and Israeli government have sided with the Christians in rejecting the mosque, which was illegally constructed. "We cannot accept an illegal structure, especially on the second holiest site of Christendom," Israel's Internal Security Minister, Tzahi Hanegbi, told the AFP news service.

Mel Gibson visits Focus on the Family, National Association of Evangelicals
Seeking positive reaction and response to his film The Passion, Mel Gibson screened the film to hundreds of pastors at Focus on the Family's Colorado Springs headquarters last Thursday.

"I'm not a preacher and I'm not a pastor," Gibson told The ...

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June 2003

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