Moroccan Quarter
The Moroccan Quarter or Mughrabi
Mughrabi, Mugrabi, Mograbi, or Mograby is a surname and place name derived from "Maghreb" – meaning "West" in Arabic, and usually referring to North Africa or specifically to Morocco, i.e., the westernmost part of the Arab and Muslim world...

Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 حارة المغاربة Harat al-Maghariba) was an 800-year old neighborhood in the southeast corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, bordering on the western wall of the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

 on the east (including the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

), the Old City walls on the south (including the Dung Gate), the Jewish Quarter to the west, and the Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
The Muslim Quarter is one of the four quarters of the ancient, walled Old City of Jerusalem. It covers 31 hectares of the northeastern sector of the Old City. The quarter is the largest and most populous and extends from the Lions' Gate in the east, along the northern wall of the Temple Mount in...

 to the north. Several schools and religious institutions were located there. The fifth and smallest of the old Jerusalem neighborhoods, it was largely demolished in 1967 by the Israeli government in order to make public access to the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

 easier. Today, most of the area has been fully absorbed into the Jewish Quarter and almost no trace of it is left.


The quarter was established in 1193 by Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

's son al-Malik al-Afdal, according to the 15th-century historian Mujir ad-Din
Mujir al-Din al-'Ulaymi
Mujīr al-Dīn al-'Ulaymī , often simply Mujir al-Din, was a Jerusalemite qadi and Arab historian whose principal work chronicled the history of Jerusalem and Hebron in the Middle Ages. Entitled al-Uns al-Jalil bi-tarikh al-Quds wal-Khalil Mujīr al-Dīn al-'Ulaymī (Arabic: ) (1456–1522), often...

, as a waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

(charitable trust) dedicated to Moroccans
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 ; he also established a school there, the Afdaliyyah. Later pious Moroccan donors extended this with several other waqfs: in 1303, one Umar ibn Abdullah ibn Abdun-Nabi al-Masmudi
The Masmuda were a Berber tribal confederacy of Morocco and one of the largest in the Maghreb, along with the Zanata and the Sanhaja. They were composed of several sub-tribes: The Berghouatas, Ghumaras , Hintatas , Tinmelel, Hergha, Genfisa, Seksiwa, Gedmiwa, Hezerdja, Urika, Guerouanes, Bni...

 al-Mujarrad endowed a zaouia
A zaouia or zawiya is an Islamic religious school or monastery. The term is Maghrebi and West African, roughly corresponding to the Eastern term madrassa...

(religious school) for the benefit of Moroccans living in the Moroccan Quarter, while in 1320 Shuayb ibn Muhammad ibn Shuayb, a grandson of the major Sufi Abu Madyan al-Ghauth
Abu Madyan
Abu Madyan , also known as Abū Madyan S̲h̲uʿayb, Abū Madyan, or Sidi Abu Madyan Shuayb ibn al-Hussein al-Ansari, was an influential Andalusian mystic and Sufist. Some even refer to him as the national figure of Maghreb mysticism as he was such a forerunner of Sufism in this geographical area...

, endowed a second zaouia there to be funded by his lands at Ain Karim. In 1352, the Marinid
The Marinid dynasty or Benemerine dynasty was a Zenata Berber dynasty of Morocco. The Marinid dynasty overtook the Almohads in controlling Morocco in 1244. They controlled most of the Maghreb from the mid-14th century to the 15th century and supported the Kingdom of Granada in Al-Andalus in the...

 king of Morocco himself, Ali ibn Uthman ibn Ya'qub ibn Abdul-Haqq, established a smaller waqf - a Qur'an donated to the al-Aqsa Mosque, together with a representative to ensure that it was read from regularly.


The quarter was donated to and mainly inhabited by people of Moroccan descent, who held on to their culture in the way of food, clothing and traditions until the neighborhood became assimilated with the rest of the Old City in the 19th century. Thus it also became a natural place of stay to Moroccans who came on pilgrimage to the al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque also known as al-Aqsa, is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem...

. Over the years a small number of schools, scientific institutions and mosques were established in the quarter and it became home to Muslim clerics who performed religious duties at the al-Aqsa Mosque. The neighborhood held the offices of the Grand Mufti
Grand Mufti
The title of Grand Mufti refers to the highest official of religious law in a Sunni or Ibadi Muslim country. The Grand Mufti issues legal opinions and edicts, fatwā, on interpretations of Islamic law for private clients or to assist judges in deciding cases...

 of Jerusalem In 1933-36, Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini , popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar , was a Palestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization , President of the Palestinian National Authority...

 lived in the neighborhood. He and his brother were sent there to live with their uncle, Selim Abul Saoud, after his mother died.

The feature of the neighborhood that would eventually doom it was its location. Houses in the quarter were only four meters away from the sacred Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

 (also known as the "Wailing Wall"), a remnant of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 plaza and an important place of pilgrimage for Jews. Public access to the wall was through a narrow passage from King David's Street, sometimes leading to tensions between the Jewish visitors, wanting easier access and more space, and the residents, who complained of the noise. With the onset of modern Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

, these tensions increased. In 1918 the influential Jewish leader Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

 sent a letter to the British Foreign Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

 asking for the quarter to be removed and the wall placed under Jewish ownership; however, the British maintained the status quo ante, and the wall as well as the Moroccan Quarter remained Waqf property, while Jews retained their longstanding right to visit it. After the 1929 Palestine riots
1929 Palestine riots
The 1929 Palestine riots, also known as the Western Wall Uprising, the 1929 Massacres, , or the Buraq Uprising , refers to a series of demonstrations and riots in late August 1929 when a long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem escalated into violence...

, Great Britain appointed a commission under the approval of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 to settle the issue. The Commission again reaffirmed the status quo, while placing certain restrictions on activities, including forbidding Jews from conducting the Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

 prayers, which involved the blowing of the Shofar
A shofar is a horn, traditionally that of a ram, used for Jewish religious purposes. Shofar-blowing is incorporated in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.Shofar come in a variety of sizes.- Bible and rabbinic literature :...

, and Muslims from carrying out the Zikr ceremony (the playing of music) close to the wall or to cause annoyance to the Jews.

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 Israeli and Jordanian forces fought in the area until the former were defeated and expelled along with 1,500 Jewish civilians from the adjacent Jewish Quarter. After having been largely destroyed during the war, the quarter, with the rest of the Old City, passed into the hands of Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...



Three days after Israel seized the Old City during the Six Day War, on the evening of June 10, 650 inhabitants of the Moroccan Quarter were told to vacate their homes on a few hours notice. Workers under the guard of soldiers then proceeded to demolish the quarter, consisting of 135 houses, the al-Buraq mosque
Al-Buraq mosque
The al-Buraq mosque was a mosque located in the Moroccan Quarter in the southeast corner of the Old City of Jerusalem. The mosque was destroyed by the Israeli government on June 10, 1967, in order to allow a larger number of Jewish worshippers at the nearby Western Wall....

, the Bou Medyan zaouia
A zaouia or zawiya is an Islamic religious school or monastery. The term is Maghrebi and West African, roughly corresponding to the Eastern term madrassa...

 and other sites, with the exception of a mosque and a zaouia which were demolished two years later. According to Etan Ben Moshe, the officer in charge, several persons died following their refusal to leave their homes; one woman from the quarter who did not hear the calls to vacate was buried beneath the rubble, her body found the next morning under the ruins of her home. In the following days all of the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter were also evicted.

The demolition was set into motion by Mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek
Teddy Kollek
Theodor "Teddy" Kollek was mayor of Jerusalem from 1965 to 1993, and founder of the Jerusalem Foundation. Kollek was re-elected five times, in 1969, 1973, 1978, 1983 and 1989...

, who also wrote about it in his 1978 autobiography, at the request of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

 after he had accompanied Ben-Gurion to the Western Wall the day after Israel seized control of the Old City. In a letter to the United Nations, the Israeli government stated that the reason for the demolition was that the Jordanian government had converted the neighborhood into a slum
A slum, as defined by United Nations agency UN-HABITAT, is a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing and squalor and lacking in tenure security. According to the United Nations, the percentage of urban dwellers living in slums decreased from 47 percent to 37 percent in the...

 area. The speed at which the quarter was demolished has been explained with the huge crowd of Jewish worshippers expected, who would be able to pray at the wall for the first time in 19 years.

Almost a year later, on April 18, 1968, the Israeli Ministry of the Treasury officially expropriated the land of the quarter for public use, along with the Jewish Quarter, and offered 200 Jordanian dinar
Jordanian dinar
The dinar is the currency of Jordan. The dinar is divided into 10 dirham, 100 qirsh or 1000 fils....

s to each family which had been displaced.

After the destruction, the section of the Wall dedicated to prayers was extended southwards to double its original length from 28 to 60 meters, while the original facing open area of some four meters grew to 40 meters: the small 120 square meter area in front of the wall became the vast Western Wall Plaza, covering 20,000 square meters over the ruins of the Moghrabi Quarter. The site of the Moroccan Quarter is now a large open plaza leading up to Western Wall, in use as an open-air synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

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