Turkey’s top cleric condemns Israel for ‘occupying’ Al-Aqsa
AA photoTurkey’s top cleric has condemned Israel for what he called as “occupation” of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which was a scene to brief clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters, raising tensions in the holy city ahead of the Jewish New Year.
“The Israeli intervention at the Masjid al-Aqsa, which is among the three most scared temples of Muslims, that started in the morning prayer time cannot be accepted. I strongly condemn the occupation of the Masjid al-Aqsa by a violation of temple inviolability which is accepted by all religions and civilizations,” Mehmet Görmez, the head of Turkey’s Directorate General of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), said in a written statement released on Sept. 13.
Earlier in the day, Muslim witnesses told Agence France-Presse police had entered the mosque and caused damage. Israeli police only said they closed the doors to the mosque to lock in rioters throwing stones, fireworks and other objects. Authorities have used the same tactic, which has seen them briefly enter, in the past in a bid to restore calm. According to police, the rioters had barricaded themselves in the mosque overnight with the aim of disrupting visits by Jews to the site ahead of the start of New Year celebrations on Sept. 13 evening.
“Before the incidents reach dimensions that cannot be prevented, occupiers should immediately back down from this dire attempt; the Masjid al-Aqsa should be opened in any case, and all kinds of desires for division and occupation should be given up forever,” Görmez said.