Egyptians take stand against Israel’s closure of Al-Aqsa ramp

Reed Galen , Tuesday 13 Dec 2011

Demonstrators in Cairo protest Israel's controversial decision to close wooden access ramp to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

In this Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011 file photo, a pedestrian walkway, known as the Mughrabi Bridge, right, leading to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, known by the Jews as the Temple Mount, is seen in Jerusalem's Old city. (Photo: AP)

An Egyptian grassroots campaign against the ongoing Judaisation of Jerusalem organised a demonstration in front of Cairo’s Dar El-Hekma on Monday to protest a decision by the Israeli occupation authorities to close a wooden access ramp to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Campaign coordinator Gamal Abdel Salam said the protest was intended to illustrate Egyptian popular opposition to the Zionist decision to close the ramp – a move that effectively prevents Muslim worshippers from accessing the mosque, considered the third holiest site in Islam.

The latest Israeli provocation contradicts an earlier decision by occupation authorities to suspend planned procedures to destroy the ramp.

According to Abdel Salam, the Israeli move serves to confirm the occupation authorities’ insistence on interfering in the mosque’s affairs, encroaching on worshippers’ prayer rights, and targeting the city’s holy sites.

Abdel Salam also stressed Egyptians’ opposition to a bill proposed by Israel’s cabinet to ban muezzins (the crier tasked with reciting the azan or call to prayer) from performing their duties in the Palestinian territories.

Such moves, say campaign organisers, amount to continued aggression on Palestinian Muslim practices and represent a perpetual threat to Islamic houses of worship. Other recent anti-Palestinian measures also include an Israeli decision to evict Palestinian families from their Jerusalem homes in order to clear the area for extremist Jewish settlers, campaign organiser said.

A number of Egyptian public figures took part in the protest. Among them were Muhammad Omara, head of the campaign against the Judaisation of Jerusalem; campaign deputy chief Safwat Hegazy; Salah Sultan, rapporteur for the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS)’s Jerusalem committee; prominent Salafist cleric Muhammad Abdel Maqsoud; and Yasmin El-Hossary, the IUMS’s female representative.

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