Kabul unveils Dome of the Rock replica

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Sunset light glints off what looks like the bright gold Dome of the Rock, but the horizon is in Kabul, and the dome is a replica recently inaugurated in the Afghan capital.

The dome tops a mosque modelled on the shrine in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem that is believed to be where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven on a winged horse.

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The new Molla Omer mosque sits on a hilltop in a park in central Kabul and was funded by the Istanbul-based IDDEF organization and inaugurated on Friday.

“We feel happy because it looks the same, it’s a holy place for all Muslims, and it should exist in every Islamic country,” said 45-year-old NGO employee Mohammad Arif Farmuli, a visitor to the site on Sunday.

Several worshippers prayed in the 350-person capacity mosque, as the sun sank behind the mountains surrounding the Afghan capital.

“When we pray here, it feels like our prayers are heard. It’s a very amazing thing, we really feel it in our hearts,” said driver Zahidullah Dankshinar, 30.

For 20-year-old Zakir Khan, the mosque brought to mind the original’s setting and the Palestinian people.

“The love we have for Palestinians, it is a dear Muslim connection, we need to keep it alive,” he said.

The mosque’s inauguration took place as conflict has exploded between Palestinian Hamas militants and Israel.

Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza border on October 7 in the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 230 others, according to Israeli officials.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says the retaliatory Israeli bombardment has killed more than 8,000 people, mainly civilians and half of them children.

Khan said the situation in Gaza is “really rough”.

“We are incredibly happy that the Bayt al-Maqdis replica is inaugurated here, and may God also have mercy there,” he said, using another name for Al-Aqsa.

Taliban officials and the IDDEF head voiced support for Palestinians at the inauguration.

“This mosque was built... to express the love of Muslims, especially Afghans, to Palestine and Al-Aqsa in the form of the Dome of the Rock,” said Interior Minister Mohammad Khaled Hanafi, according to a statement.

Read more:

Israel keeps tight curbs on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa holy site

Israel closes checkpoints across West Bank, Jerusalem, restricts entry into Al Aqsa

Protests across Pakistan, Afghanistan in support of Palestinians

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