Egyptians chant slogans as a man burns the Israeli flag during an anti-Israel protest held after the Friday noon prayer at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, May 10, 2013. (Photo: AP)
Dozens of Islamist protesters gathered at Al-Azhar Mosque after noon prayers on Friday to denounce Israeli assaults on Syria and the arrest of Palestine’s top Muslim cleric.
Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed El-Beltagy lead chants of “To Jerusalem we go, millions of martyrs” and “One Islamic Nation.”
“The issue of Jerusalem and Palestine will always be an issue for the whole Arab and Muslim nation,” El-Beltagy said during the protest.
The protest was sparked by the arrest of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohamed Hussein, by Israeli forces on Tuesday. He was released on Wednesday after being interrogated for six hours.
"The Brotherhood appeals to all Egyptians to take part in ‘Jerusalem Solidarity Friday’ in support of Palestinians and against the latest Israeli aggression at Al-Aqsa Mosque and the unjustifiable arrest of Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti,” read a statement released early Friday by Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Yasser Mehrez.
Protesters also denounced Israeli attacks on Syrian military sites near Damascus on 3 and 5 May, the second of which reportedly killed at least 42 soldiers.
"The Muslim Brotherhood is not the organiser of the ‘Jerusalem Solidarity Friday’ rallies, but it will participate,” Mehrez added.
The Brotherhood’s participation in the protest was mocked by Tharwat El-Kharabawy, a former senior member of the group.
“Please, whoever is in touch with the Muslim Brotherhood, let them know that Al-Aqsa Mosque is in Jerusalem not Al-Azhar,” said El-Kharabawy, who was expelled from the Brotherhood in 2002 and later became a vocal critic of the group.
Alexandria witnessed a similar protest, despite the rainy weather, in front of the iconic Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque. Protesters in the coastal city were critical of the stance of Egyptian authorities towards the situation in Palestine and Syria.
“The silence of the Egyptian regime towards Zionist crimes against Al-Aqsa and Syria is unjustifiable... and reminds us of the old regime,” said Hussein Gomaa, coordinator of the Leftist Youth Movement in Alexandria.