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German court bans mosque’s outdoor call to prayer

Mosque in Germany

A rainbow shines above the minaret of the DITIB Mosque in Kehl, southwestern Germany 

BERLIN (REUTERS) – A mosque in northwest Germany may no longer broadcast its Friday midday call to prayer by loudspeaker for now after a local court upheld a challenge by a couple who live nearly 1km away.

The Gelsenkirchen administrative court found that the town of Oer-Erkenschwick had not assessed the local Muslim community’s request properly in 2013, but a court spokesman said on Friday (Feb 2) that this did not prevent the mosque making a new application for a permit for the prayer calls.

The local Christian couple had argued that the call to prayers violated their own religious rights.

Anti-Muslim sentiment and support for anti-immigration policies are growing in many parts of Germany after the influx of well over a million migrants from Iraq, Syria and other mostly Muslim countries, beginning in 2015.

Huseyin Turgut, a senior official with the affected mosque, said the court’s decision was disappointing.

“The call to prayer lasts for two minutes, just around 1pm, but only on Fridays,” he said. “We’ve never had any complaints and we have German neighbours who are much closer – just 10 metres away.”

The town’s administration could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Source / 04.02.2018)

Muslim boy of 14 stabbed outside mosque in Birmingham

This image taken on September 30, 2017 shows outside the  Idaara Maarif-e-Islam mosque in Herbert Road, Small Heath, Birmingham.

This image taken on September 30, 2017 shows outside the Idaara Maarif-e-Islam mosque in Herbert Road, Small Heath, Birmingham

A teenage Muslim boy has been stabbed several times outside a mosque in Birmingham, UK, leaving the 14-year-old victim in critical condition.

Police cordoned off the crime scene in Herbert Road while specialist police teams carried out forensic investigations.

The incident occurred on Friday night when the boy was dropped off at the Idaara Maarif-e-Islam mosque, commonly known as Hussainia, by his father, who went to park the car.

“It happened on the pavement. By the time the dad parked his car his son was on the floor. There was a young man who was brutally beating the boy with a knife,” Azhar Kiana, the president of the mosque, told local media on Saturday.

“There was blood everywhere, he was hitting the boy’s neck and head. Then the attacker ran off and got into a car.”

The attack was one of several violent incidents in four cities that left two people dead and several others injured on Friday night and the early hours of Saturday.

West Midlands police said a 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on Saturday morning and is in custody.

Police said they were not treating the attack as a terrorist incident but the motivation remained unclear.

It is suspected, however, the incident could have been a racially or religiously motivated hate crime.

“Our investigation is progressing quickly but it is still in the early stages. We do not believe it to be terror-related. The motivation for the attack is not yet known. We are keeping an open mind as to whether it could be racially or religiously motivated,” said DI Jim Colclough from the complex crime investigation team at Bournville Lane police station said.

London’s Metropolitan police recorded more than 1,200 hate crime incidents against Muslim victims from April 2016 to March 2017, pointing to a surge of Islamophobia in the UK.

Last year, a Huffington Post UK poll showed more than half of Britons viewed Islam and Muslims as a threat to the liberal democratic values popular in the United Kingdom.

(Source / 01.10.2017)

Austria’s parliament bans full-face veil in public

The provision, part of a larger integration package, means those wearing the veil in public will be fined $166.

The provision is part of a larger 'integration' law [File: The Associated Press]

The provision is part of a larger ‘integration’ law

Austrian members of parliament have approved a new bill which bans garments that fully cover the face of women – the latest restriction for the country’s Muslim population.

The provision, adopted on Tuesday night, was backed by both ruling parties and means that people wearing full-face veils in public will be subject to 150-euro ($166) fines starting in October.

The measure was first announced by Austria’s coalition government in January as part of wider proposals aimed at countering the rise of the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party.

Farid Hafez, political scientist at the University of Salzburg and editor of The European Islamophobia Report, said the ban was just the latest move imposing restrictions on Muslims. In 2015, Austria, home to some 600,000 Muslims, passed a bill requiring imams to be able to speak German.

“This is another example of the far right becoming the hegemonic force in the public discourse,” he told Al Jazeera.

READ MORE: What the hijab means to me

The ban is part of a larger package which also forbids the distribution of the Quran and requires all migrants in Austria to participate in an “integration” year during which they take classes to learn German and ethics considered customary in Austria.

That measure is targeted at refugees and asylum seekers viewed as having a good chance of remaining in Austria.

“It will definitely empower people who have just arrived here to get acquainted with society more,” Hafez said.

“But at the end of the day, what is needed is access to the labour market. Austria has one of the most restrictive labour markets in Europe and this has not fundamentally been changed.

“So it sounds good, but the real improvement is still lacking,” he said.

Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, is the man behind the new legislation

Asylum seekers are also expected to perform unpaid public work under the new law – a proposal, supporters say, that is designed to make migrants better suited for the Austrian labour market.

Migrants refusing to take part in the integration courses or public work will see their welfare benefits cut.

The nationwide ban on full-face veils comes on the heels of a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in March, which stated that employers are entitled to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols, a decision Muslims said was a direct attack on women wearing hijabs at work.

“The court could and should have seized the opportunity to put a halt to the multiple discriminations faced by Muslim women and protect their fundamental rights, but they chose not to,” Kim Lecoyer, president of Belgium-based Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera in reaction to the ECJ ruling.

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Rash Of Mosque Burnings Stuns American Muslims, Civil Rights Advocates

With four mosques burned in the last seven weeks and 385 anti-Muslim acts recorded just last year, the rise of Islamophobia can no longer be ignored.

Police tape marks off the burned front lobby of the Islamic Center of Palm Springs in Coachella, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. Flames were reported just after noon on Friday. The fire was contained to the small building's front lobby, and no one was injured. (AP Photo/David Martin)

Police tape marks off the burned front lobby of the Islamic Center of Palm Springs in Coachella, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. Flames were reported just after noon on Friday. The fire was contained to the small building’s front lobby, and no one was injured

While Sept. 11 is most often remembered as a day that drastically changed U.S. foreign and domestic policy, particularly due to the advent of the never-ending “War on Terror,” many American Muslims look back on the event as a major turning point in the national perception of their religion. Islamophobia, although undeniably existent prior to the attacks, began to surge throughout the United States, later spreading to other countries throughout the Western world.

Now, nearly 16 years later, Islamophobia is more prevalent than ever, thanks to years of propaganda justifying the bombing of Muslim-majority nations and the Muslim migrant crisis in the European Union, among other factors.

Indeed, 2017 – after just two months – has already become a year of high-profile Islamophobic incidents, some of which turned deadly. The most recent of these took place last week, when a man in Kansas shot two Indian men, one of whom was killed. The attacker, upon confessing to the crime, stated that he believed his victims were not Indian, but Iranian. A month prior, a Canadian man opened fire in a mosque, killing six people and wounding 19 others.

Mosque burnings have also been surprisingly common in 2017, with four mosques destroyed just in the last seven weeks. The first took place on Jan. 7, when the uncompleted Islamic Center of Lake Travis in Austin, TXcaught fire and “burned to the ground.” A week later, an Islamic Center in Bellevue, WA was badly damaged by a fire confirmed to be the work of an arsonist.

The FBI, ATF and other agencies sift through the burned remains of the Victoria Islamic Center a mosque in Victoria on Jan. 29 2017. Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The FBI, ATF and other agencies sift through the burned remains of the Victoria Islamic Center a mosque in Victoria, Texas on Jan. 29 2017

On Jan. 27, another Texas mosque was destroyed by fire, this time an Islamic Center in Victoria, TX. More recently, on Feb. 24, a fire broke out in front of the Islamic Society of New Tampa. This fire was also attributed to arson.

This has not been terribly surprising in light of the fact that 2016 was one of the worst years on record for Islamophobic acts. Last September, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) stated that 2016 was set “to be one of the worst years ever for anti-mosque incidents.” A CAIR survey conducted around the same time found that 85 percent of Muslim voters believed that Islamophobia and general anti-Muslim sentiment had increased within the past year.

The Huffington Post’s Islamophobia tracker registered a total of 385 anti-Muslim acts over the course of last year, while the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 112 anti-Muslim incidents just between Nov. 9 and Dec. 12 last year.

Despite the fact that 2017’s anti-Muslim violence has been part of an existing trend, American Muslims and their advocates have been stunned nonetheless by the uptick. “In normal times, I will see one to two mosque incidents of any type per month, and rarely is it arson,” Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, told Buzzfeed.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, echoed Saylor’s words, stating that “We’ve never seen four mosques burned within seven weeks of each other. It’s part of a whole series of dramatic attacks on Muslims. […] The short answer is we haven’t seen anything like this in the past.”

(Source / 04.03.2017)

Young White Men Are Being Radicalized. It’s Time To Talk About It

As Trump pitches fight against ‘Islamic terrorists’, where is the alarm over disenfranchised men being lured into white supremacist movements?

Richard Spencer, the founder of the so-called “alt-right” movement, an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism. (AP Photo)

Richard Spencer, the founder of the so-called “alt-right” movement, an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism

White supremacy swept to power the day Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. His most ardent supporters championed him across the world. For them, Trump signaled the resurgence of white male dominance and they weren’t ashamed to celebrate it.

The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 1,094 hate related incidences in the US since the first month of Trump’s election victory

Their influence is growing. Following Trump’s executive order to ban citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US – a decree overturned by federal courts – white nationalists took to Reddit to express their joy. Trump, it seemed, was the real deal.

One user even said that he was so proud of Trump that he couldn’t possibly “raise his right arm any higher” – a reference to the Nazi salute.

These posts aren’t anecdotal. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented 1,094 hate-related incidences in the US since the first month of Trump’s election victory. In 37 percent of all cases, there was a direct reference to Trump or something he said.

The SPLC has also counted 892 hate groups in the US, the clear majority of which espouse white supremacist views.

Many of these movements are active on gaming networks and internet forums such as Stormfront, which has become a breeding ground for far right-wing extremists.

Now, the White House is presenting racism as an acceptable ideology, resulting in the radicalization of young white men across the world.

It’s time we talk about it.

Richard Spencer is a self-declared “white nationalist” who founded the Alt-Right – Alternative Right – movement in 2010. He has erecently kicked off a tour of college campuses to recruit new members who are disillusioned with the Republican political establishment.

In 2015, Muslims experienced a 67 percent increase in hate crimes directed towards them

At its core, the Alt-Right claims to protect white people from an unfolding “cultural genocide” perpetrated by the empowerment of feminists and people of colour. But who is supposed to protect everybody else from bigots like Spencer?

In 2015, the FBI reported that out of the 2,125 hate crime offences recorded against blacks, white people were the perpetrators 58 percent of the time. Whites, on the other hand, were victims in only 10 percent of the total of 5,850 reported incidences.

Meanwhile, Muslims experienced a 67 percent increase in hate crimes directed towards them in the same time frame. Anti-Semitic attacks remained the most frequent.

The real figures could be much higher since many states don’t report hate crimes to the FBI. That’s only part of the problem. The fact the White House is propagating hate speech is more worrying.

Lecia Pickett, the outreach director for SPLC, said that their centre has started a programme on college campuses to try and safeguard young white men from radicalisation. She also emphasised the importance of engaging with Republican groups who sponsor talks by people like Spencer.

“[Minorities] are very concerned with the increase of anti-Semitism and anti-feminism,” Lecia told MEE.

“[America] just can’t afford to backtrack on these things. [SPLC] is speaking on campuses all the time and speaking to administrators as well.”

Despite the efforts of groups like SPLC, propaganda is difficult to counter.

Last year, Breitbart News – an Alt-Right outlet that Trump promoted during his campaign – experienced a considerable spike in traffic from 13 million to 19 million visitors.

The resurgence of Nazi aspirations hasn’t compelled governments to seriously ponder how to safeguard young white men from extremism – unlike the hysteria that follows people of colour and Muslims when a crime is committed in their name

Such platforms and the leaders who endorse them are radicalising people beyond the US. That much was clear after a white French-Canadian student stepped into an Islamic Cultural Centre late last month and killed six men for no reason other than their faith.

It was later revealed that the shooter supported Trump and the far-right French politician Marine Le Pen.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the killing a terrorist attack. However, the resurgence of Nazi aspirations hasn’t compelled governments to seriously ponder how to safeguard young white men from extremism – unlike the hysteria that follows people of colour and Muslims when a crime is committed in their name.

That trend is certain to continue. Donald Trump’s administration is already pushing to remove neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the US governmment’s counter-extremism programme. Instead, they want to concentrate solely on “Islamic terrorists” and change the name of the programme from ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ to ‘Countering Radical Islamic Extremism’.

Never mind an FBI report, written more than 10 years ago, that warned about white supremacists groups infiltrating local and state law enforcement. The disturbing truth is that they won’t have to look over their shoulder as long as Trump is in charge.

If only the same can be said about young black men who continue to be profiled, harassed and killed by the police.

The banality of Trump

Many Trump supporters, while understandably fed up with the corrupt political establishment, failed to combat the bigotry of their candidate.

His campaign catered to the most extreme prejudices of white America. The nation’s racist past appeared to be an afterthought for his supporters. Not much has changed in the first weeks of his presidency.

The latest Reuters opinion poll reported that more people supported Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims than opposed it. Opinions were divided almost entirely along political party lines.

That’s not to say that everyone who agrees with Trump is radicalised. But it does suggest that people are buying into the fears being fed to them.

Trump is shoving a vision of the world – deprived of nuance and tolerance – down the throats of anyone willing to swallow it.

His tactics aren’t new. The Jewish German political theorist, Hannah Arendt, once wrote: “the sad truth is that most evil is done by those who never make up their minds to be good or evil”.

These words couldn’t be more relevant. Trump’s administration is counting on their most passive supporters to approve presidential decrees while hoping those who resist eventually normalise the unacceptable.

If that happens, white supremacy will thrive in the wake of indifference.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

New Turkey-Europe War over ‘Spying Imams’

Fethullah Gulen in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Sept. 24, 2013. Reuters

Fethullah Gulen in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Sept. 24, 2013

Ankara- Allegations on spying activities practiced by some Turks, who belong to Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) and other unions and associations in Germany and Austria, have opened a new door for tension with Ankara.

DITIB is Germany’s largest Islamic umbrella group with over 900 mosques tied to the Turkish government’s Directorate of Religion, or Diyanet.

German officials not only issued statements about activities practiced by some Turkish people, especially imams sent by DITIB, but also started judicial investigations.

The imams have allegedly collected information across Europe on supporters of the religious movement Ankara blames for last July’s failed coup attempt.

German police on Wednesday raided the homes of four imams alleged to have spied on the opposition for the Turkish government.

The Federal Prosecutors Office (GBA) said in a statement no arrests were made in the raids in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Rhineland-Pfalz, which aimed to collect evidence into imams conducting alleged espionage against supporters of U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The prosecutor’s office said the raids were carried out as a result of a September order from Diyanet, a religious body tied to the Turkish premiership, for imams to pass information to diplomatic missions on Gulen supporters.

Chief of the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs Mehmet Gormez said Turkish authorities had acknowledged that six imams had “exceeded their authorities” and were called back to Turkey in order not to harm relations with Germany.

Gormez blamed “internal” political concerns for the raids, which he said were conducted despite the fact that the imams had returned to Turkey.

He rejected accusations that the clerics were engaged in spying or any other illegal activity.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized Germany on Friday saying that the country has become a safe haven for PKK members, as well as for followers of the Gulenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

Speaking to reporters at the G20 Summit of Foreign Ministers in the German city of Bonn, Cavusoglu said Ankara’s concerns over the FETÖ members in Germany have been expressed to German authorities at every opportunity.

“It is not acceptable that they have found a place for themselves in a country like Germany.”

For his part, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag condemned on Thursday the raids and accused Berlin of acting indirectly under the influence of the Gulen movement.

He said the investigation into the alleged spying showed how easily Germany “believes the allegations of terrorists.”

In a common matter, an Austrian opposition lawmaker accused Turkey of operating an informer network via its embassy in Vienna that he said targets critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, promotes his policies and receives payments from Ankara.

Peter Pilz, from the Austrian Greens, said he sent documents to the police detailing the activities of the ATIB, an umbrella organization headed by the religious attache at Turkey’s embassy that oversees dozens of mosques in Austria.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

Islamophobia is fuelling terrorism says UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Islamophobia in parts of the world is fuelling terrorism, the head of the United Nations said on a visit to Saudi Arabia yesterday, as anti-immigrant sentiment rises in some countries.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made the comment to reporters after talks with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed Bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

“One of the things that fuel terrorism is the expression in some parts of the world of Islamophobic feelings and Islamophobic policies and Islamophobic hate speeches,” Guterres said at a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. Guterres said:

This is sometimes the best support that Daesh can have to make its own propaganda

Anti-Muslim and anti-immigration sentiments have been rising in the West. Politicians, including France’s Marine Le Pen have seen their popularity rise after an influx to Europe of migrants and refugees, many of them Muslims fleeing wars in Syria and elsewhere.

US President Donald Trump issued an order in late January that denied entry to all refugees for 120 days.

Antonio Guterres “appeals for peace” but the new UN chief faces an uphill battle to win over the Trump administration and the rising tide of Islamophobia in Europe.

(Source / 13.02.2017)

Israeli gov’t approves bill banning Muslims’ Azzan

Azzan has been raised in historic mosques in Palestine for more than 1,400 years

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday bill banning the Muslim call to prayer in occupied Palestine and East Jerusalem.

“The goal of the Azzan Bill is to create an atmosphere of hatred and incitement towards the Arab public,” Arab-Israeli MK said

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday bill banning the Muslim call to prayer in occupied Palestine and East Jerusalem.

It is now ready to go before the Knesset for a vote on whether it becomes law, Israeli media have reported.

The bill, which is referred to by the Israeli legislators as the “Muezzin Bill,” bans the call to prayer from being broadcast by loudspeakers to the local community in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem between 11pm and 7am.

A draft text was approved by the same committee in November last year, but the ultra-Orthodox Israeli Minister of Health, Yaakov Litzman, filed an appeal against it, fearing it could affect the use of sirens for the weekly announcement of the Jewish Sabbath.

According to the Times of Israel, the bill will be submitted to the Knesset on Wednesday and will have to go through three rounds of votes before it goes on the statute books.

Violations of the ban on loudspeakers for the call to prayer, the newspaper reported, would incur a fine of 10,000 shekels ($2,665).

The Jerusalem Post said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the bill. He has claimed in a cabinet meeting that “citizens of all religions” have complained to him countless times about noise from mosque loudspeakers.

“Israel is committed to freedom for all religions,” added Netanyahu, “but is also responsible for protecting its citizens from noise.”

Israeli Arab MK Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint List, was reported by the Jerusalem Post as saying that the bill is racist and populist.

“Its whole goal is to create an atmosphere of hatred and incitement towards the Arab public,” he explained.

“There are already noise laws that apply to mosques and it is clear that the whole purpose of the bill is to label mosques as problematic. It is obviously damaging to freedom of religion for Muslims and the continuation of the persecution led by the prime minister.”

(Source / 13.02.2017)

Trump Discusses an Alternative for Travel Ban


Iranian citizen and U.S green card holder Cyrus Khosravi (L) greets his brother, Hamidreza Khosravi (C), and niece, Dena Khosravi (R), 2, after they were detained for additional screening following their arrival to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to visit Cyrus, during a pause in U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban in SeaTac, Washington, U.S. February 6, 2017

Washington – U.S. President Donald Trump had announced that he will be considering several options in face of the judicial block of his travel ban for seven Muslim countries.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One on his way to Florida, he said he was confident that he could win any legal battles. But he indicated he was also thinking about alternative strategies.

Trump’s original order, which he called a national security measure meant to head off attacks by extremist militants, barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days, except refugees from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

A federal judge in Seattle suspended the order last Friday after its legality was challenged by Washington state. The court said the ban violates constitutional principles. That ruling was upheld by an appeals court in San Francisco on Thursday, raising questions about Trump’s next step.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimously decided to pause the president’s executive order.

When asked by reporters about the new order and what it may contain, Trump said that it will include new security measures.

“We have very, very strong vetting. I call it extreme vetting and we’re going very strong on security. We’re going to have people coming to our country that want to be here for good reasons,” he stressed.

The President took it to Twitter announcing that he was confident that his lawyers would win the argument before the country’s highest court. In another tweet, he said: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

Trump declared that he will continue to do his best for the safety of the country, promising that he will introduce new results as of next week.

He added: “We will continue to go through the court process, and ultimately I have no doubt that we’ll win that particular case.”

Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) teamed up with police forces and local authorities in several states on the Mexican border during a wide-ranged arrest campaign.

The Mexican government warned Friday of a “new reality” for its citizens living in the United States and advised them to “take precautions” following the deportation of an undocumented mother after a routine visit with U.S. immigration authorities.

ICE said most of the people targeted in homes and workplaces from Southern California to Atlanta and other cities were criminals.

Activists estimated the number of arrested illegal immigrants to be of 500.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, of Mesa, Arizona, was taken into custody Wednesday during a routine check-in at the central Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Over the past four years, federal immigration authorities had given her a pass to remain in the U.S. rather than deport her back to her native Mexico. But this time, the mother of two children born in the U.S., was deported to Nogales, Sonora, on Thursday.

Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying the case illustrates a new reality for the Mexican community living in the United States, facing the most severe implementation of immigration control measures.

Mexican consulates “have intensified their work of protecting fellow nationals, foreseeing more severe immigration measures to be implemented by the authorities of this country, and possible violations to constitutional precepts during such operations and problems with due process,” the statement added.

The ministry then advised the entire Mexican community to take precautions and stay in touch with nearest consulate, to get the help needed to cope with a situation of this kind.

In a related matter, Trump said he would reduce the price of the wall he wants built on the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I am reading that the great border WALL will cost more than the government originally thought, but I have not gotten involved in the … design or negotiations yet,” Trump tweeted.

“When I do, just like with the F-35 FighterJet or the Air Force One Program, price will come WAY DOWN!”, he said in another tweet.

Trump’s response came after media reports estimated the price of a wall along the entire border would cost $21.6 billion. During his presidential campaign Trump had cited a $12 billion figure.

(Source / 12.02.2017)

Israeli authorities ban UN Muslim staff, Gazans from praying at Aqsa


The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) have prevented UNRWA’s Muslim staff members and worshipers from the blockaded Gaza Strip from gaining access to the holy al-Aqsa Mosque for the tenth week running.

Media chief at the Civil Affairs Commission, Mohamed al-Mukadma, said the IOA banned Gazans and UNRWA staff members from performing their prayers at the holy al-Aqsa Mosque—the third holiest site in Islam.

Such bans have been frequently issued on claims that Gazans exceed the time-span allotted for them to visit Occupied Jerusalem and pray at al-Aqsa Mosque then return to the Strip on the same day.

(Source / 10.02.2017)