Al-Aqsa to remain closed until after Eid Al-Fitr

An Israeli soldier walks among Palestinian worshippers as they pray outside the closed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. (AFP)
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Updated 19 May 2020

Al-Aqsa to remain closed until after Eid Al-Fitr

  • Officials fear they will not be able to control those coming in if the mosque reopens and that the influx will prevent physical distancing, which is a vital measure in the fight against the spread of the virus

AMMAN: Al-Aqsa Mosque is to stay closed until after Eid-Al-Fitr celebrations, following a decision from the Islamic Waqf Council on Monday to keep the holy site shut in order to save lives amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Council member Mahdi Abdelhadi said all issues related to the opening of the mosque had been discussed, but the authority upheld a previous decision to keep it closed. There is an exception for waqf staff, who have continued to pray at Islam’s third holiest mosque.

“Mosques in Makkah, Madinah, Al-Azhar, Amman and other mosques have also been closed for the same reason, which is the protection of the health of worshippers,” he told Arab News.

The council called on the Jordanian waqf department to do what was needed in terms of health precautions to prepare the mosques and other facilities within the Haram Al-Sharif site to be open when lockdown conditions allowed.

Wasfi Kailani, who is director of the Royal Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa, told Arab News that waqf authorities had no tools to regulate worshippers if they were to return.

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Officials fear they will not be able to control those coming in if Al-Aqsa Mosque reopens and that the influx will prevent physical distancing, which is a vital measure in the fight against the spread of the virus.

Officials fear they will not be able to control those coming in if the mosque reopens and that the influx will prevent physical distancing, which is a vital measure in the fight against the spread of the virus.

The prolonged closure means that worshippers will not be able to go to Al-Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday night for the important occasion of Laylatul Qadr, which commemorates the night that Allah first revealed the Holy Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the Angel Gabriel.

The council’s decision to keep the mosque shut coincides with fresh attempts by Jews to restart their unapproved visits to the mosque.

Yehuda Etzion and Arnon Segal have been petitioning for Jews to access the site, denied since the lockdown started. They have argued that preventing Jews from going to the site while Muslims are allowed is unconstitutional.

Waqf sources told Arab News that if there was any change or if the Israeli police allowed Jews in from the Moghrabi Gate, which is under the control of Israeli police, then Muslim worshippers would also go.

Jews and other visitors regularly make unapproved trips to the mosque with police protection.

 


Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

Algerians walk across from the People's National Assembly (parliament) building during a voting session on constitutional reforms in the capital Algiers, on September 10, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2020

Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

  • The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022

ALGIERS: The Algerian president says early legislative elections aimed at opening parliament to civil society will be held before the end of the year to give a new face to a parliament long dominated by a single party.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune did not set a date but indicated on Sunday evening that the parliamentary voting would follow a national referendum on a constitutional revision to be held Nov. 1, a highly symbolic date marking the start of this North African nation’s seven-year war with France for independence that began Nov. 1, 1954.
The next National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, which “will be made up of lawmakers from universities, civil society, will serve as the base of the ‘New Algeria,’” Tebboune said in an interview with two Algerian newspapers.
“If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.”
Tebboune was referring to the corruption that highlighted the 20 years of power of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, forced to resign in April 2019 amid growing peaceful street protests and a push from the then-Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who died in December.

If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Algeria

Tebboune was elected promising change, including a new parliament, though the vote was largely boycotted by the protest movement, the Hirak.
The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022.
A new electoral law foreseen in the constitutional revision “will put in place safeguards to keep dirty money out of politics,” the president said, adding that with the constitutional revision Algeria would “truly be at the service of the citizen and not at the service of a group exercising domination.”
Numerous business leaders and two prime ministers have been jailed on corruption charges since the downfall of Bouteflika. During a trial last week, lawmaker Baha Eddine Tliba admitted to paying the former chief of the powerful FLN party Djamel Ould Abbas, to be placed on his list of candidates to ensure him a parliamentary seat.