On August 21, 1969 AD, an Australian tourist set fire to the the southern part of Al-Aqsa Mosque of Jerusalem, the third holiest mosque for muslims. This man was a Zionist evangelical tourist who arrived in Palestine as a volunteer in an Israeli kibbutz, then moved to Jerusalem, where he stayed for nearly a month, visiting the mosque daily under the pretext of taking pictures of the building. In this period he was preparing a plan to burn the mosque in order to establish a synagogue in its place in order to hasten the return of Christ.
Burning of Al Aqsa Mosque
The criminal set fire to the pulpit of the historical mosque made of wood nearly a thousand years ago, which Saladin had placed in the mosque after the liberation of Jerusalem from the Crusaders. The fire spread from the wooden pulpit to completely burn the southern part of the mosque until its roof collapsed. In addition to the historical pulpit, the mosque’s furniture and carpets and historical decorative artifacts made of wood and gypsum were also destroyed by fire.
The importance of Al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation
This act, which prejudiced the sacred mosque, the third of the Two Holy Mosques, had a great reaction in the Islamic world, and there were demonstrations everywhere. After this crime the late King Hassan II of Morocco called the Arab and Islamic countries to meet in Rabat on September 25, 1969. The meeting approved a plan for the restoration of the mosque and resulted in the establishment of the Organization of the Islamic
Conference, which includes in its membership all Islamic countries. The name of the organization has changed since then to become the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Retoration of the Mosque
The mosque’s restoration work continued under the supervision of the Jordanian Ministry of Endowments until 1986, when the entire area of the mosque was reopened to worshipers. A pulpit identical to the burned pulpit of Saladin was built and placed in the mosque in 2006.
Commemorative Stamps from Egypt
In 1970, Egypt issued a set of two postage stamps on the first anniversary of the fire with a value of 20 and 60 millimes, bearing the numbers 825 and 826 in the Ivert & Tellier catalog.