My post update showed that an Egyptian minister of religious endowments Zaqzouq is indeed asking Muslims to visit Jerusalem to strengthen ties to the city. What I didn't realize is that this is part of a month-long dispute between Zaqzouq and influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, who reacted to Zaqzouq's similar call last month with an explicit fatwa against any such visits. Here is a reproduction of an Al Quds al Arabi editorial about the issue last month:
Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, has constantly espoused a position opposed to the pro-sultan preachers, defending resistance and sacrifice of life for the sake of the nation's causes, faith, and rights, consistently guided by the Holy Koran, Prophet Muhammad's tradition, and the life of the Prophet's companions.So in fact Zuqzouq is way outside the mainstream of the Muslim world when he says that Muslims should visit Jerusalem. Qaradawi has a huge following.
The other day, Dr Al-Qaradawi issued a firm fatwa condemning the calls sanctioning visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem under occupation, regarding such calls as disgrace, proscribed by the Islamic shari'ah, and legitimize the occupation forces. This fatwa came in response to a statement by the Egyptian Awqaf Minister, Hamdi Zaquq, in which he said that he is interested in getting a visa to visit occupied Jerusalem and that his visit constitutes "a great support for the Palestinian cause and people."
The Egyptian awqaf minister represents a ruling regime that has established close ties with Israel on all political, economic, and diplomatic levels. This regime exports gas to the Hebraic State at a very cheap price and imposes an oppressive blockade on two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in cooperation with the Israeli government. As such, it is only natural that he should see nothing wrong in travel to occupied Jerusalem and to put on record a precedent encouraging others to follow suit.
Regrettably, Dr Zaqzuq sticks to his position, desperately defending it and not hesitating to announce that he will visit occupied Jerusalem upon getting the necessary visa from the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. He denies that his step is within the framework of normalization of ties with Israel. This insistence on normalization of ties by the Egyptian awqaf minister comes at a time when the Coptic Pope, Shanudah, refuses to permit his church parishioners to visit occupied Jerusalem despite the enormous pressure on him by the Egyptian government, which reached the point of supporting calls to rebel against him and foment divisions among the followers of his church.
We in Al-Quds al-Arabi back Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi's fatwa which incriminates all calls for and all forms of normalization of ties with Israel as long as the territories remain under occupation and face continued grabbing by the successive Israeli governments, which reject peace and continue to commit war crimes in the Gaza Strip and in south Lebanon.
Visits to the occupied territories by Muslim religious clerics and senior officials will only serve to legitimize the Israeli occupation and give a misleading picture to the world about Israel's tolerance towards other religions at a time when it Judiazes Arab mosques and churches in the holy city, undermines the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and implements plans to partition it, if not, in fact, it is seeking to demolish it by the excavations under its foundations.
Of course, the irony is that the leader of the Palestinian Arab Waqf also wants Muslims to visit Jerusalem. PA waqf minister Mahmoud Habash just released a statement saying that Qaradawi's fatwa plays into the hands of the "occupation."
Here is yet one more example where the Arab world will actively oppose doing what Palestinian Arabs want them to do - and they say they are doing it to help Palestinian Arabs! This fatwa helps isolate the PalArabs from their supposed brethren and it is meant to perpetuate the status-quo of millions of Palestinian Arabs in misery.
It reminds one of the Arab League's first act, to declare a boycott against Palestinian Jews back in 1946, a move bitterly opposed by the Palestinian Arabs of the day - yet the ones who broke the boycott ended up getting targeted themselves, many fatally. But it was all done in "solidarity" with the people who bear the brunt of that decision.
The Western world still cannot wrap their heads around the fact that Arabs have been the ones treating Palestinian Arabs like dirt for over six decades. The intra-Arab hate gets lost in the blinding brightness of their loathing of Jews/Zionists, so clueless Westerners think that Arab nations really stand in solidarity with the Palestinian Arabs.
In fact, they are the ones who are the architects of Palestinian Arab misery, and they have been for a long, long time.