Egypt Top Imam’s Trip To Jerusalem Causes Stir

Islamic groups in Egypt have criticised top cleric, grand mufti Ali Gomaa, for visiting Israeli-controlled city of Jerusalem.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood said the trip “normalises relations” with Israel.

The grand mufti was in Jerusalem for the opening of Imam Ghazali Chair of Islamic Studies organised under Jordanian jurisdiction.

Gomaa, Egypt’s highest religious authority, visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Wednesday for the first time, along with Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed, King Abdullah II’s cousin and adviser on religious affairs.

Gomaa stated that his trip was a show of solidarity with Palestinians and their claims to the Israeli-held east Jerusalem and “to show that Israel can’t stop Arabs and Muslims from going to the city’s Al-Aqsa mosque,” his media advisor was quoted saying.

According to the state news agency Mena, the visit was unofficial and the grand mufti did not even receive an entry visa from the Israeli authorities.

Though a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel exists since 1979, there has been an informal cultural, business and travel boycott backed by unions, universities, private associations and the majority of the Egyptian public.

The Egyptian Coptic Church and most Muslim preachers in the region also uphold the ban.

Religious rulings

The visit is seen by many as being in violation of several fatwas (religious rulings) by high ranking institutes such as Al Azhar and the Islamic Research Centre.

“It is not acceptable for such a visit to take place after the revolution, when both official and popular positions reject having any relations with the Israeli entity as long as occupation, settlements and the siege of Gaza continue,” Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party stated.

A member of the moderate Islamist ‘Wasat’ party asked the mufti to resign over the visit.

By Dallia Mohamed NATION Correspondent

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