Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mecca's Hallowed Skyline Transformed

MECCA, Saudi Arabia - These days it's easier to find a Cinnabon in Mecca than the house where the Prophet Muhammad was born.

The ancient sites in Islam's holiest city are under attack from both money and extreme religion. Developers are building giant glass and marble towers that loom over the revered Kaaba which millions of Muslims face in their daily prayers. At the same time, religious zealots continue to work, as they have for decades, to destroy landmarks that they say encourage the worship of idols instead of God.

As a result, some complain that the kingdom's Islamic austerity and oil-stoked capitalism are robbing this city of its history.

"To me, Mecca is not a city. It is a sanctuary. It is a place of diversity and tolerance. ... Unfortunately it isn't anymore," said Sami Angawi, a Saudi architect who has devoted his life to preserving what remains of the area's history. "Every day you come and see the buildings becoming bigger and bigger and higher and higher."

Abraj al-Bait is a complex of seven towers, some of them still under construction, rising only yards from the Kaaba, the cube-like black shrine at the center of Muslim worship in Mecca. "Be a neighbor to the Prophet," promises an Arabic-language newspaper ad for apartments there.

Read on at: Yahoo! News

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's so sad when you notice all the department stores in Mecca and Medina. Us North American don't care for them but the folks from third world countries are distracted from worship by spending more time in shopping than in extra prayers which are highly rewarding. It's sad to see high American influence there.From KFC McDonalds and you name it.