The Temple Mount, holy to Muslims and Jews

Muslim leader: Stay away from Mount

Egyptian sheikh calls for international protection of Islam's third holiest site ahead of planned right-wing rally

One of the Sunni Muslim world's most respected clerics predicted on Saturday that the Middle East would explode if rightist Jews visit the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.


"Any infringement of the sanctity of the mosque will lead to the region blowing up because of its status in the eyes of Muslims," Said the Sheikh of al-Azhar in Cairo, quoted by the Egyptian state news agency MENA.


More than 10,000 Palestinians demonstrated on Saturday and warned of a "Third uprising" If right-wing Jews, hoping to derail plans for a Gaza withdrawal, try on Sunday to enter the Haram al-Sharif, the platform on which the mosque stands.


The Haram al-Sharif, Arabic for the Noble Sanctuary, is the third holiest site to most Muslims after Mecca and Medina and is known to Jews as the Temple Mount.


The world's largest Muslim group, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said any attack would encourage extremism.


"This would provoke the anger and resentment of millions of Muslims all over the world in a way never witnessed before and would fan the flames of extremism ... And the Israeli occupation government will bear full responsibility for this," The OIC said in a statement issued at its Jeddah headquarters.


Islamists up in arms


In the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, more than 7,000 Egyptian students also demonstrated against the right-wing group's plan, which has caused alarm among many Muslims.


The Egyptian students, led by Islamists, said they would consider any encroachment on the Haram to be a declaration of war against all Arab and Muslim peoples.


The Sheikh of al-Azhar, Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, called on the international community to carry out its duty to protect the religious site.


The Cairo-based International Union for Muslim Scholars said in a statement that rightist Jews want to pull down the mosque and rebuild a Jewish temple on the rubble.


"Encroachment on the Aqsa Mosque would be the spark which ignites the Islamic world in anger," it said.



פרסום ראשון: 04.09.05, 19:33
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