In a Holy Land rich with religious sites, the new Abu Ghosh mosque is rare – as is the hilly village from which it rises.
Bankrolled largely by Chechnya and named after its former leader Akhmad Kadyrov, who was slain by Islamist militants in 2004, the glimmering shrine tells of this small Israeli Arab community’s historical ties to the restive Russian province.
Abu Ghosh residents say their forbears were Chechens who came five centuries ago to then Ottoman-ruled Palestine. With the advent of modern Zionism, the villagers were quick to forge an alliance with the Jewish state founded in the war of 1948.
“We were raised to accept and welcome everyone, no matter what their race or religion,” said Salim Jabr, the former Abu Ghosh mayor and chief fund-raiser for the $10 million mosque.