Current escalation of tensions at Al-Aqsa Mosque has sparked many queries about divided and drowsy Muslim World. Before analyzing the role of Muslim World in this current disaster it would be better, first, to have some insight into the events leading to current flare-ups at Jerusalem.
Deadly Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli Security Forces erupted after Israel installed metal detectors and turnstiles at the entrance of Al-Aqsa mosque compound after two Israeli police officers were killed in a shooting in Jerusalem’s Old City, just outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on July 14 triggering the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years. The attackers were three Arab Israelis, and were also killed in that shoot out. The events following that attack led to the fatally stabbing of three Israelis in the occupied West Bank and at least three Palestinians reported killed in protests in Jerusalem, West Bank.
Jerusalem is divided into two parts East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located in East Jerusalem. It is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, where the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located from where the Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) ascended to heaven, and to Jews as Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, where ancient temples once stood. By De jure, the majority of UN member states and most international organizations do not recognize Israel’s ownership of East Jerusalem which occurred after the 1967 Six-Day War, nor its 1980 Jerusalem Law proclamation, which declared a “complete and united” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As a result, foreign embassies are generally located in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. There is an existing status quo allowing Jordan to manage Al- Aqsa Mosque Compound by Islamic Waqf. Muslims are allowed to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Jews and Christians can visit Al-Aqsa Mosque compound but they are not allowed to pray. Security control of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is wholly in the hands of Israel.
Installation of metal detectors and turnstiles by Israel at the entrances of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is perceived as touching on issues of sovereignty, religious freedom, occupation, and Palestinian nationalism. Under the pressure from United Nations and International community, Israel has announced that It is going to dismantle metal detectors and turnstiles and will install other security tools that will not hinder or slow the movement of Muslims to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ceased all contacts with Israel until it removes metal detectors from the Noble Sanctuary. A few howls of indignation are coming from non-Muslim countries. Now the queries has emerged that besides Palestinians, where does the Muslim World stand? Most of the Muslim leaders are either asleep or at least drowsy. Most of the countries have not even bothered to launch any statement against Israel’s effort to change the existing delicate status quo. It seems most of leading Arab countries has abandoned Palestinians. Gulf countries are more concerned about Qatar and Iran. Iran itself is not showing any anti-Israel stance, though it had been lashing out at Israel in past on many occasions. Iran’s Foreign Ministry has criticized Israel but no statement was given at Presidential level. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson has condemned the Israeli crackdown against the oppressed nation of Palestine, saying the Zionist regime of Israel is the main symbol and source of state terrorism and fearmongering in the region. May be Iran is too much busy in saving Bashaar-ul-Assad regime in Syria. Pakistan is suffering already heavy losses by bordering Muslim and non-Muslim countries in the shape of terrorism. Pakistan is encircled by India, Afghanistan, Iran and United States agencies. The only nuclear power of Muslim World is fighting war of its survival. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has in fact appealed by directly addressing the Israeli public and government, calling on both not to take steps that provoke Muslims. He said ‘We want to live side by side and that is a shared issue that we need to protect.’ Up till now only Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken a firm stance in condemning Israel. He urged Muslims across the world to “visit” and “protect” Jerusalem, slamming what he said was an “unacceptable” infringement on Palestinians’ rights to a holy site.
In these circumstances, Palestinians deserve great appreciation for defending third holiest Mosque in Islam, when Muslim leaders can’t dare to support them openly.
Jawad Akram is an Islamabad based International Affairs Analyst.
He has done Masters in International Relations.
He can be reached at email@example.com or @jawad5677