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In Photos:
Palestinians pray in the Great Omari Mosque in Gaza

Aug. 27, 2009 10:45 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 28, 2009 3:33 P.M.)
[Click for more photos]

Palestinians rest and pray in the Great Omari Mosque, also known as The Great Mosque of Gaza.

The Great Mosque is located in the Daraj Quarter of the Old City in Downtown Gaza, and has been used as a religious place since the ancient Philistines. It became a Byzantine church in the 5th century AD before the generals of Caliph Omar, the Mosque’s namesake, conquered the Levant in 635 AD.

Here Palestinians rest as others read the Koran on the fifth day of Ramadan inside the walls of the mosque. It remains in active use by the residents of the area as a sanctuary and holy site. Muslims throughout the world are celebrating the fasting month of Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, refraining from eating, drinking, and smoking from dawn to dusk.

The 4,100 square meters which comprise the interior of Al-Omari Mosque has been re-imagined, designed and built many times over since Omar’s conquest. The exterior façade remains an example of crusader architecture, while its interior shows traces of Mamluk influence, has Italian-gothic columns, and bears an inscription from 1663 of the name of an Ottoman Governor of Gaza, Mousa Pasha.

The Mosque saw violence during the battle of Gaza between Hamas and Fatah, and it’s pro-Hamas Imam, Mohammed Al-Rafati, was assassinated by Fatah gunmen on 12 June 2007.

Today it remains a focal point of Palestinian pride in the area, and serves as an important base of emotional and physical support for Gazans.

Photography by Ma'an's William Nasser.
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