Why doesn't Türkiye own any property in Jersualem? - TAHA KILINÇ

Why doesn't Türkiye own any property in Jersualem?

The Sorceress Gate (in English: Herod's Gate), one of the northern entrances of the Jerusalem city walls, is also the beginning of the roads that directly connect to the Muslim Quarter. When you step inside the walls, turn left, and pass the shops on the left and right, you will soon find yourself in the heart of ancient Jerusalem, which is covered with narrow, labyrinth-like streets. When you climb the stairs on the right in the interior of the Sorceress Gate, a green iron gate greets you on the left. This is the entrance of the "Indian Hospice" (Az-Zawiyetu'l-Hindiyya / Zâwiyetu'l-Hunud).

In my previous visits to Jerusalem, I passed by it many times, and every time I asked, “I wonder what's inside?” The Hindi Lodge was a place I wondered about. The Indian flag attached to both sides of the main entrance and the English-Arabic-Hindi inscription “Supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India - New Delhi” further increased my curiosity about the zawiyah.

Finally, last Saturday, thanks to a wonderful dinner organized by our friends living in Jerusalem at the Hindi Lodge, I had the opportunity to see and get to know the history hidden inside the walls in detail:

The foundations of the Hindi Lodge were laid by a mystic named Baba Feriduddin Genc-Şeker, who came to Jerusalem from India in the first half of the 1200s and retired to seclusion within the walls -probably following the Chishtī tariqa. The place, also called the Ferîdiyya Zawiyah in relation to its founder, expanded over time, becoming a popular place for Muslims who came to the Hejaz from the land of India and became a complex.

The Hindi Hospice, which was neglected in the last periods of the Ottoman Empire and did not have an active community, was revived in 1924 with the efforts of the then President of the Supreme Islamic Council, Hajji Amin AHusseynî. Haji Amin sent a delegation to the Muslims of India and demanded that a competent person be chosen to take over the administration of the zawiya. The Indian ulema also sent a person named Nezir Hasan Ansari to Jerusalem in 1927 to take over the management of the lodge. Ansari, who rolled up his sleeves as soon as he arrived and started working on the reconstruction of the complex, married a lady from Jerusalem the following year. Nezir Hasan Ansari, who ruled the Hindi Hospice until 1952, left his place to his eldest son Muhammed Munir Bey after this date.

The Hindi Hospice, which was severely damaged during the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948, was completely devastated in the Six-Day War (1967) when Israel occupied Jerusalem. The bombings of the invaders not only destroyed the buildings, but also Mohammed Munir Ansari's mother, sister, and 2-year-old nephew died under the rubble. Muhammed Munir Bey also survived the attacks with burns on his face and hands. The Hindi Hospice, which remained derelict from 1967 to 1991, was later revived with the intervention of the Indian government.

At the entrance, part of the lodge, which is clinically operated by the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), has a series of buildings facing the same courtyard: cells, a prayer room, a library, a burial ground, a seclusion room and a cafeteria. It is believed that “Baba Ferîd”, the founder of the complex, stayed in Itikaf for 40 days in the seclusion room. At the same time, the library, which contains many documents and photographs about the recent history of Jerusalem, is a hidden treasure. Valuable documents revealing the organic ties of Indian Muslims with Jerusalem are waiting to be discovered and studied in a modest room.

During the hours I spent in the Hindu Hospice, the question always swirled in my mind: “As Türkiye, why don't we have any property or real estate that belongs to us in Jerusalem?”

You may be surprised by the question. Yes, in Jerusalem, which the Ottoman Empire ruled for 401 years, there is not a single structure today that belongs to the Republic of Türkiye. The buildings where institutions representing our state reside  are always rented. It doesn't make sense, but we are faced with such a bitter truth in Jerusalem.

I openly call on those who have authority and opportunity: Aside from the missed opportunities or wasted time, this very important deficiency needs to be remedied as soon as possible. If we intend to have a say on the field, it cannot be done by remaining a "tenant" in Jerusalem.

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