The Beersheba Municipality has rejected a petition by the Bedouin Muslims of the Negev to pray in the old mosque of Beersheba. The Baseiso Mosque was built in 1906 by the Ottoman Empire and served as a mosque until 1950. At that time, the Israelis decided to convert the mosque into a Museum for Islamic and Israeli culture.
The High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Negev’s Muslim Committee and the Bedouin Rights Protection Foundation to convert the museum into a mosque for local Muslims to use it for prayer.
The Municipality stated that an active mosque in the heart of a Jewish city is unthinkable. They also claimed that converting the museum back into a mosque for public prayer would threaten the city’s security.
Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich said, ‘The city views Muslim prayer as an element of incitement.”
There remains no active center for the five thousand Muslims remaining in Beersheba, which compels them to pray on the street, in other public places, or not at all.
Since 1948, the population of Beersheba has been mostly Jewish with no significant Arab population.