Although it is impossible to quantify, there is a return to religion among an increasing number of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, according to an article by Isabel Kershner in the July 26 issue of the Jerusalem Report, an Israeli news magazine.
The article focuses on activities led by Sheikh Najeh Bkeirat for Muslim women. Claims of a “Muslim awakening” are confirmed by observers of the Palestinian scene. According to the Sheikh, the collapse of major ideologies and systems (such as communism) play a significant role in those developments.
Israeli officials estimate that the Palestinian Authority is not very respected among Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which means that Islamic elements have little competition, especially because most traditional local ruling families are no longer present due to emigration. Palestinians number 250,000 in Jerusalem out of a total population of 692,000. They have permanent resident status, but are not Israeli citizens.
New mosques are being built and religious observance is growing; lunchtime mosques have been opening in commercial districts. Everybody agrees that this religious reawakening will not necessarily lead to radicalism and violence. However, this might be one potential development, and for this reason Israeli authorities are paying attention.
— By Jean- Francois Mayer
(Jerusalem Report, P.O. Box 1805, Jerusalem 91017, Israel – Website:http://www.jrep.com)