Israel: Ahmadiyyas open doors amid fears wildfires will singe Jewish-Arab ties in Haifa
â€œWe have to put out the physical fires and we also have to put out the fire of hate. Allah is the one sovereign and we have to look after everyone.” — Sheikh Muhammad Sharif Odeh
Two days after a wave of wildfires spread throughout the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Haifa and forced tens of thousands to flee, residents returned to pick through the blackened debris of their homes while pondering what had started it all.
Now, as Haifa residents take stock of the damage, many express concern that the fires and the accusations of politically motivated arson also might tear at the threads of Jewish-Arab coexistence in the city.
In the Haifa Arab neighborhood of Kbabir, located just few minutesâ€™ drive from the fires and home to a community of Ahmadiyya Muslims, Sheikh Muhammad Sharif Odeh opened up the local auditorium center to host 150 soldiers from Israelâ€™s Home Front Command while the fires raged.
â€œWe have to put out the physical fires and we also have to put out the fire of hate,â€™â€™ Odeh said. â€œAllah is the one sovereign and we have to look after everyone. The ethnic mosaic [in Haifa] is strong, and politicians canâ€™t change the relations here.â€™â€™
The blazes were the most widespread in recent memory. In 2010, some 42 people were killed in a blaze in the Carmel Forest outside of Haifa, but the wildfires were limited to one area.
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