Al-Aqsa guidebook debunks Zionist narratives

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In this file photo taken on March 20, 2020 Palestinians walk in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque inside the almost deserted compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, after clerics took protective measures in a bid to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, on March 20, 2020. (AFP)
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A picture taken on March 1, 2018, shows a general view of construction work in the Western Wall plaza of Jerusalem's Old City with the Dome of the Rock mosque in the al-Aqsa compound in the background. (AFP)
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Updated 21 September 2020

Al-Aqsa guidebook debunks Zionist narratives

  • Sheikh Abdel Azim Salhab, Head of the Islamic Waqf Council in Jerusalem, said that the new guidebook is an important addition to the rich set of publications about this important Islamic site

AMMAN: A detailed guidebook of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif has been published in several languages both in print and online to debunk Israeli narratives that seek to divide the mosque.

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, the founder and director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) and the guide’s main author, told Arab News that the book is the updated version of a 2015 guidebook issued in Arabic, English and Turkish. Abdul Hadi said that the guide was a response to continuous Israeli attempts to falsify facts. “They have repeatedly tried to create a new reality on the ground and tried to take over the Bab Al-Rahmeh, and we wanted to show that the entire 144-dunum (144,000 square meter) mosque area is holy to Muslims.”

Abdul Hadi said that the guidebook responds to attempts by Israel in the recent normalization agreements to differentiate between Al-Aqsa Mosque and the rest of the gated Haram area.

“We have documented 136 different holy places in the Haram we wanted everyone local and foreign, including our Arab brothers, to know about it,” he said.

Sheikh Abdel Azim Salhab, Head of the Islamic Waqf Council in Jerusalem, said that the new guidebook is an important addition to the rich set of publications about this important Islamic site.

“This is an updated and well-researched book with many more details about the various locations and holy places that make up Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif. We aim to distribute it widely and hope that the Hashemite Fund will distribute it in schools and universities so that students and teachers are aware of the mosque and its various locations,” he said.

Salhab pointed out that even Palestinians living nearby would benefit from this book. “We hope that newspapers can use it to highlight different locations so that young Palestinians who are unable to reach the mosque are aware of its many locations and its importance to Muslims.”

Sheikh Azzam Khatib, the director of the Waqf Department in Jerusalem, said that there are 136 Islamic shrines in the 144-dunum area, including Al-Aqsa mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Marwani and Bab Al-Rahmeh mosques. “For each location, it describes who built it and what it provides for the mosque and for worshipers.”

Khatib said that the guidebook will be distributed to local and international bodies of interest, including research centers, diplomats, educational institutions and everyone who visits the mosque.”

Wasfi Kailani, the executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque, said that the book was conceived in 2012 in response to radicals’ narratives about the mosque, guided by the need to support Muslims visiting the mosque. He said that the Hashemite restoration fund provided financial support for a large number of researchers to work on it.

“This guidebook is important for Muslim pilgrims and non-Muslim visitors,” Kailani said. “It provides an easy-to-follow route that combines both the spiritual and the educational. I don’t think there is an Islamic site in the world that has as detailed a documentation of its history as Al-Aqsa.”

 


Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

Turkish Cypriot politician Ersin Tatar celebrates his election victory in Turkish-controlled northern Nicosia, Cyprus October 18, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 October 2020

Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

  • The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations”
  • Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution and held the post of premier in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

NICOSIA: Turkish Cypriots in breakaway northern Cyprus on Sunday narrowly elected right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar, backed by Ankara, in a run-off poll, at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tatar, 60, clinched his surprise victory in a second round of presidential elections, winning 51.7 percent of the vote, official results showed.
He edged out incumbent Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, 72, a supporter of reunification with the Greek Cypriot south of the divided island, leaving attempts to relaunch long-stalled UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.
Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution and held the post of premier in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized only by Ankara.
He controversially received the open backing of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the election campaign.
In a victory speech to hundreds of cheering and Turkish flag-waving supporters, Tatar thanked Turkey’s head of state and said: “We deserve our sovereignty — we are the voice of Turkish Cypriots.
“We are fighting to exist within the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, therefore our neighbors in the south and the world community should respect our fight for freedom.”
There was no immediate official reaction from the Greek Cypriot government or ruling party in the south of the island, which is a European Union member state, although opposition parties were quick to lament the outcome.
Erdogan was swift to celebrate the victory, which followed a high 67-percent turnout at the polls.
“I congratulate Ersin Tatar who has been elected president ... Turkey will continue to provide all types of efforts to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people,” he wrote on Twitter.

HIGHLIGHT

Ersin Tatar edged out incumbent Mustafa Akinc, leaving attempts to relaunch UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.

In a telephone call the same night, Erdogan said he was confident the two leaders would maintain close cooperation in all areas, “starting with the hydrocarbon linked activities in the eastern Mediterranean,” his office said.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has become an increasingly assertive regional power that is now engaged in a bitter dispute with Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters.
The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months.
The second-round ballot was triggered after Tatar won 32 percent of the vote on Oct. 11 ahead of Akinci, who garnered just under 30 percent.
Akinci was tipped to secure a second term, having won the backing of Tufan Erhurman, a fellow social democrat who came third last time around.
After his defeat, Akinci, who had accused Ankara of meddling in the polls, thanked his supporters and said: “You know what happened ... I am not going to do politics on this.”
The TRNC, with a population of about 300,000, was established after the north was occupied by Turkey in 1974 in reaction to a coup that aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece.
Earlier in October, Turkish troops angered the Republic of Cyprus by reopening public access to the fenced-off seaside ghost town of Varosha for the first time since Turkish forces invaded the north.
The reopening was announced jointly by Erdogan and Tatar at a meeting in Ankara just days before the first round of polling.
It drew EU and UN criticism and sparked demonstrations in the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises its authority over the island’s south, separated from the TRNC by a UN-patrolled buffer zone.
On the eve of Sunday’s vote, Greek Cypriot demonstrators massed at a checkpoint along the so-called “Green Line,” holding signs that read “Cyprus is Greek,” in protest at the reopening of nearby Varosha to the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey has repeatedly said it seeks to defend Turkish and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Akinci’s relationship with Ankara had come under strain, especially after he described the prospect of the north’s annexation by Turkey as “horrible” in February.
When Akinci took office in 2015, he was hailed as the leader best placed to revive peace talks.
But hopes were dashed in July 2017 after UN-mediated negotiations collapsed in Switzerland, notably over Greek Cypriot demands for the withdrawal of the tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers still stationed in the TRNC.