World Bulletin / News Desk
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Iyad Madani said Monday that he had the right to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.
"Every other Muslim has the right to come here as well," Madani said at the iconic mosque. "I, and every other Muslim, have the right to pray at the mosque as well."
Madani is currently on a visit to East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He described the visit as "something Muslims have long been deprived of."
At the mosque, Madani was received by several Al-Aqsa Mosque and religious endowment officials.
He was given a briefing about conditions at the mosque, especially in relation to continued Israeli violations against it and attempts by the Israeli government to Judaize it.
Madani had earlier performed prayers at the Dome of the Rock Mosque before touring the historical house of worship.
It is Madani's first-ever visit to the mosque, but the second by an OIC chief. Former OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu visited the flashpoint site in 2013.
On Saturday, Madani called on Arabs and Muslims to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem to safeguard the holy sites' Islamic identities.
He said obstacles encountered by Arabs and Muslims on the way to the holy site would show the world that they were not ready to abandon them.
Madani's call, however, was not received warmly by Egypt's Al-Azhar, the world's highest Sunni-Muslim seat of learning, and Egypt's Coptic Church, which both discourage their followers to visit the site as long as Jerusalem remains under Israeli occupation.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.Last Mod: 05 Ocak 2015, 20:39