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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Egyptian Mufti visits Jerusalem, causes controversy

From AFP:
Egypt's grand mufti visited Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque on Wednesday, a senior Muslim official said, despite claims by an internationally prominent cleric that such visits are a sop to Israel.

Azzam al-Khatib said Ali Gomaa, Egypt's highest religious authority, "came for a religious visit to Al-Aqsa mosque" along with Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed, King Abdullah II's cousin and advisor on religious issues.

It comes after Qatar-based Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian, said in a religious edict (fatwa) last month that Muslims should not visit Jerusalem "because it requires dealing with Zionist embassies to obtain visas."

"Such visits might also give legitimacy to the occupation and could be seen as normalisation," Qaradawi said in March.

His fatwa has drawn the ire of Palestinian awqaf minister Mahmud al-Habbash, saying it was "weird and contradicts the Koran and the Prophet's teachings."

"The fatwa serves Israeli policies that seek to isolate Jerusalem and Palestinians, who should be supported," Habbash said.

Earlier this month, the king's half-brother, Prince Hashim, paid a similar visit to Jerusalem. Also, Jordan's Interior Minister Mohammad Raud went to the Holy City this week.

The kingdom's powerful opposition Islamists have denounced such visits.

"In line with Islamic edicts issued by respected clerics and consultations with Christian religious leaders, we consider these trips as acts of normalisation that serves the schemes of the enemy," said Hamzeh Mansur, chief of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, on the party's website.

"Mosque preachers, thinkers, intellectuals and journalists should intensify their efforts to warn the public against the dangerous risks behind such visits, which must not continue," added Mansur, who also heads an anti-normalisation committee.
There has been much opposition to any such trips within the Muslim world. for example, two years ago an Egyptian soccer team canceled their planned visit to play a friendly game against Palestinian Arabs.

Gomaa, however, seems to have avoided the biggest problem from the Muslim perspective. He came through Jordan and went with Jordanian authorities under cover of calling it a diplomatic mission, avoiding any contact with Israeli authorities altogether. Even so, the Mufti is receiving a lot of criticism in Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and others.

Last year Gomaa threatened Israel saying that if the country continues to disregard the feelings of all the Muslims, it would feel the wrath of 1.5 billion people.

Meanwhile, here's a new MEMRI video of an Egyptian TV host slamming the Copts who visited Jerusalem earlier this month.