Turkey declares protecting al-Aqsa its mission

Turkey declares protecting al-Aqsa its mission

Turkey declares protecting al-Aqsa its mission

Palestinians pray outside the Old City in Jerusalem as Israeli police limited the access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. AP Photo

Turkish leaders have said protecting Islamic sites in the Holy Land is a sacred mission for them, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan bluntly warning any attack against the 8th-century al-Aqsa Mosque is no different than an attack on the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca.

“The Israeli administration has to stop this despicableness, this barbarity; what would it say if this kind of attack had been launched against synagogues? The Masjid al-Aqsa is not only a shrine for Palestinians, but is the shrine of all Muslims,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying on Nov. 7 during an official visit to the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat.

“This action, this attempt launched against the Masjid al-Aqsa can never be forgiven. Attacking the Masjid al-Aqsa is like attacking the Kabaa,” Erdoğan added.

The president had already urged the international community to take “all required steps” on the issue, while arguing that, otherwise, Israeli provocations might revive intifada movements, with various troubles spreading into different parts of the world, as tension would not remain limited to Palestine, Jerusalem or the region.

As Palestinian protesters fought with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank on Nov. 7, the latest clashes in a fortnight of violence over access to Jerusalem’s holiest site, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also made a point of the significance attached to resolving of the issue by his government.

“Al-Quds [Jerusalem] has been entrusted with us by [Muslim caliph] Hazrat Omar. Al-Quds has been entrusted to us by [Ottoman Sultan] Yavuz Sultan Selim and [Ottoman Sultan] Süleyman the Magnificent. Al-Quds has been entrusted to us by the last soldier of the Ottomans,” Davutoğlu said passionately on Nov. 7.

“Al-Quds is our cause even if everybody else forgets and it will continue being our cause for eternity. Nobody can turn to a Turk and say ‘al-Quds is not your cause,’” Davutoğlu added, as he was delivering a speech during a collective opening ceremony for some 21 facilities in the northwestern Anatolian province of Bursa.

Recalling that he called both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal earlier in the day, Davutoğlu pledged to do whatever it takes for al-Quds and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

“We have given the required orders; we will launch initiatives everywhere, the U.N. being the first place in the world for supporting al-Quds,” Davutoğlu said.

Erdoğan also said Nov. 6 that Turkey would raise the issue with members of the U.N. Security Council, as he underlined the importance of stopping violations at the al-Aqsa compound for maintaining regional peace.

The Israeli aggression was protested at four corners of the country, as Friday prayers also provided an opportunity for people to gather.

The Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), the charity that organized the Mavi Marmara ship to Gaza to break the embargo in 2010, called on people to protest the incursion of Israeli soldiers and extremist Jews into the mosque.

Pro-Palestinian activists chanted slogans and raised flags following Friday prayers in Istanbul as part of nationwide protests. Around 1,000 protesters gathered in the yard of Istanbul’s Fatih Mosque, condemning what they called “Zionist aggression on the holy temple.”

In Ankara, protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy and threw stones at the building. Riot police fired tear gas to disperse the protestors.