Abbas condemns Israeli arrest of Jerusalem's mufti

Ahram Online, AFP, Wednesday 8 May 2013

Arrest of senior Palestinian Islamic cleric is a violation of freedom of worship, says President Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
Palestinians pray outside the compound that houses al-Aqsa mosque, which is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, following scuffles between Muslim worshippers and Jewish visitors at the site in Jerusalem's Old City May 7, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the arrest of Jerusalem's most senior Muslim cleric by the Israeli authorities, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported on Wednesday.

Abbas regarded the detention step as a "severe violation of the freedom of worship" and called for the "immediate release" of the mufti of Jerusalem, Mohamed Hussein.

According to AFP, Israeli police were questioning Hussein for suspected involvement in a "disturbance" at the Al-Aqsa mosque located in the Holy City.

"Some chairs were thrown at a group of Jews on the Temple Mount," which Muslims refer to as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the news agency of the previous day's incident.

The statement of Abbas coincided with a unanimous reaction by Jordanian MPs who demanded the government expel Israeli Ambassador Daniel Nevo over what they called the "occupation measures" at the Al-Aqsa mosque, including Hussein's detention.

Jordan "views the Israeli violations in a very serious way," Petra news agency quoted Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur as saying, specifically citing "the detention of the mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohamed Hussein."

The incident comes as Israelis were celebrating Jerusalem Day, which marks the "reunification" of the city after Israel captured the Arab eastern sector from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Thousands of Israelis are to join marches and rallies throughout the city that begin at 4:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Wednesday, including a "flag march" that will end late at night.

Police will be closing roads from noon to make way for the festivities, and "thousands of police and border guards are being deployed throughout the city, including east Jerusalem, to maintain peace and security," police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

Security forces would be deployed at Al-Haram Al-Sharif to stop "any attempt at disrupting order," she added.

Marches were also intended to pass through east Jerusalem.

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