Arsonists torch abandoned mosque

Dec. 14, 2011 at 7:54 AM

JERUSALEM, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Arsonists set fire to an abandoned 12th century mosque in Jerusalem early Wednesday after covering the walls with anti-Islamic graffiti, police said.

The Nebi Akasha mosque, in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, was abandoned during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and recently turned into a municipal storage facility, Haaretz reported.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said such actions will not be tolerated.

"We must show zero-tolerance for any kind of violence and maintain the coexistence in the city," Barkat said.

Neighborhood residents denounced the perpetrators.

"These are crazy people who are set to ignite a religious war in the city," one man told "I hope the Arab population understands that this is a minority. There are a lot of hooligans here."

Graffiti spray-painted on the walls of the mosque defamed Islam and Arabs. Authorities also found the phrase "price tag" -- an apparent reference to a dissident Jewish group that has been attacking government and military as well as Palestinian targets.

Police are investigating.

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