SHAFAQNA -Â The opening of a cafe in Jerusalem built over a revered Islamic cemetery has sparked condemnation and anger from the Muslim community.Â The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said on Tuesday that the construction of the site was part of an Israeli plan that aims to demolish â€œeverything related to Arabic Islamic history on this landâ€.
Landwer Cafeâ€™s Independence Garden branchÂ opened on Sunday on part of an area of land located between occupied East Jerusalem, which isÂ predominantly Arab,Â and West Jerusalem. The area was being transformed into a park. Â For centuries, the land housed the Maaman Allah cemetery,
the oldest and largest Muslim graveyard in the country, and is believed to contain the remains of some of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad.
The owner of the restaurant told Al Jazeera that he did not know there was a grave under the cafe, but refused to make further comments.Â â€œItâ€™s not just the loss of the cemetery that angers the Palestinians. The cafeâ€™s selling of alcohol [forbidden in Islam] is seen as a grave violation of the sanctity of the Islamic site,â€ local residents have said.
The cafe is just one part of a plan that includes the construction on the site of 192 housing units, a 480-room hotel, commercial spaces, parking and other elements, Israelâ€™s Haaretz newspaper reported.Â A Museum of Tolerance is also being built in the area.