Journalism Student at Northwestern University

Ramadan in the Old City: First Friday

The Old City of Jerusalem is home to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque – Muslim holy sites that drew nearly 80,000 worshippers this first Friday of Ramadan. Unfortunately for me, only Muslims are allowed near the center of the action in the Mosque.

The influx of so many people to the small area, many of them Palestinians without Israeli citizenship, has led to clashes in the past. The security situation was tense as crowds moved from Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem to the places of prayer. Soldiers, police officers and border patrol held positions throughout the Muslim quarter. Many people told me they were waiting for something to happen at any moment. Fortuately, nothing did.

I benefited from the rare good noon light that filtered through my adopted neighborhood’s covered alleys.

Images for Flash90.

A Muslim man walked to the Mosque for prayers the first Friday of Ramadan in the Old City.

A Muslim man walked to the Al-Aqsa mosque for prayers the first Friday of Ramadan in the Old City. Rafi Letzter/Flash90

Officers watched as a woman approached a checkpoint near the entryway to Al-Aqsa. No non-Muslims were allowed past this point. Rafi Letzter/Flash90

Officers watched as a crowd passed through a checkpoint near the entryway to Al-Aqsa. No non-Muslims were allowed past this point. Rafi Letzter/Flash90

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A border policeman wearing a rubber bullet banolier walks through the Old City of Jerusalem on the first Friday of Ramadan, part of an influx of security intended to prevent clashes. Rafi Letzter/Flash90

Muslims walked to the Al-Aqsa mosque for prayers the first Friday of Ramadan in the Old City. Rafi Letzter/Flash90

Muslims walked to the Al-Aqsa mosque for prayers the first Friday of Ramadan in the Old City. Rafi Letzter/Flash90

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