Guardians of the Mosque: African Palestinians of Jerusalem
Photography by Andrew Courtney
Friday, 9 November 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The African Palestinian community of Jerusalem lies in the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. This Palestinian community traces its background through its oldest members to Muslim pilgrims who came to Jerusalem from Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, and Senegal generations ago. Throughout history, holding the keys to the Islamic holy sites, they have been called “The Guardians of the Mosque.” Even today, some men and women hold jobs as bodyguards or with the Palestinian police.
Fifty families live in apartments on both sides of one of the access streets to the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. These apartments were built in the fourteenth century Mamluk era. During the following centuries of Ottoman rule, until 1918, they were used as prisons.
The African community in Jerusalem today has connections to family living in Jericho and other areas of the West Bank and Gaza. African Palestinians continue to be active in the resistance process for the Palestinian national struggle and many have been political prisoners in Israeli jails. Others are active with the Palestinian Authority. The African Palestinian community is known for perseverance and resilience in the face of the oppressive Israeli occupation. Traditional values and customs are meeting more modern behaviors within one generation as the African community makes new ties to Africa, to the other Africans in Israel and Palestine, and hopefully to people in the United States.
9 November — 1 December 2012
At The Jerusalem Fund Gallery