Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque gets new Saladin pulpit

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JERUSALEM – A replica of a wooden pulpit given to Al-Aqsa by Saladin after his 1187 conquest of Jerusalem has been installed in the mosque, almost four decades after the original was destroyed in a fire, a reporter said Wednesday.

The pulpit was transported overnight Tuesday from Jordan, where it was constructed over a period of four years.

It was transported under security, with several streets around the Old City of Jerusalem closed and a helicopter hovering overhead, Israeli police said.

“The burnt pulpit was destroyed into pieces,” said Adnan Husseini, a senior official in the Waqf, which oversees Muslim religious sites.

“The new one was constructed on the model of the original. Once the plans were drawn up, it took four years to construct it,” Husseini said.

The cost of the new pulpit stood at 1.5 million dollars (1.15 million euros), donated by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, said Luay Dabbur, a deputy dean at Jordan’s Balqa Applied Sciences University where the pulpit was built.

The original pulpit, brought by Saladin from Allepo in today’s northern Syria, was destroyed in a fire set by a Christian extremist from Australia, Michael Dennis Rohan, inside the mosque on August 21, 1969.

Al-Aqsa mosque compound is Islam’s third-holiest site, after Mecca and Medina. According to Islamic tradition, the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the site.