Al Azhar head slams Israel over Jerusalem cleric ban

Aqsa Mosque cleric barred from attending pro-Jerusalem conference in Cairo


Cairo: Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayyib, Tuesday night lashed out at Israel for barring a Palestinian cleric from leaving for Cairo to attend a major conference in support of Israeli-occupied Jerusalem.

Al Azhar, Sunni Islam’s prestigious seat of learning, is hosting on Wednesday the conference called in reaction to US President Donald Trump’s contested recognition of Israel as Israel’s capital.

Israeli authorities have refused to permit Yousuf Salma, a preacher of Al Aqsa Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem, to attend the two-day event.

“This decision shows arrogance with which the Zionist occupation authorities deal with the Palestinian people and their religious leadership,” Shaikh Al Tayyib said in an online statement.

He added that the conference is aimed at “exposing the Zionist occupation violations and emphasising the Palestinian people’s right” to have their own independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. Al Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third holiest site.

Representatives from 86 countries are expected to attend the conference organized in conjunction with the Muslim Council of Elders based in Abu Dhabi.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived on Tuesday in Cairo to attend the event.

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