Egypt MPs demand Mufti quit over Jerusalem trip

CAIRO, April 22 (Reuters) – Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament on Sunday called on the Mufti to quit after a visit to Jerusalem, stepping up pressure on the state-appointed official over a trip that critics say bestowed recognition of Israeli control of the city.

Mufti Ali Gomaa’s trip to East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, has caused a stir in Egypt and across the Arab region, where he has been criticised for a visit that has revived debate about normalisation with Israel.

Gomaa has defended himself, saying his trip was in a personal rather than official capacity and a response to an invitation from Jordan, which lost the city to Israel in 1967 but remains the custodian of its Muslim holy sites. He prayed at the al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Though Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979, most Egyptians are largely opposed to any normalisation between the two countries until they see that Palestinian rights are restored.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group and the largest party in the Egyptian parliament, has called Gomaa’s visit “a catastrophe”. In protest at the visit, the Egyptian Writers’ Union also moved to terminate Gomaa’s membership.

“The brutal enemy controls (Jerusalem’s) entries, exits, mosques, and churches,” the parliamentary committee responsible for religious affairs said in a statement, recommending the vote that called on Gomaa to step down.

“Going into (Jerusalem) enforces occupation and bestows upon it legitimacy, as it also represents a sign of normalisation with the Zionist entity that is popularly rejected.”

CALL FOR RESIGNATION

Parliament voted to ask Gomaa to apologise to the Arab and Islamic people and submit his resignation. The gesture cannot force him from office but carries symbolic weight and is another example of Egypt’s newly-elected MPs seeking to punch above the weight accorded them by Egypt’s interim system of government.

The country is currently governed by a council of military generals who took power from deposed President Hosni Mubarak. The mufti’s main job is to issue Islamic legal opinions.

Ibrahim Negm, a senior adviser to the Mufti, told Reuters Gomaa had not been formally notified of parliament’s vote and doubted he would step down because the visit was “not a crime”.

Earlier, Gomaa defended his trip on his Twitter account. “Jerusalem is in the heart of every Muslim,” he said. “Visiting Jerusalem increases one’s feelings of rejection of occupation and injustice and helps strengthen the (Palestinian) cause.”

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as a future capital of a Palestinian state, although peace talks towards the establishment of that state are at a standstill. Israel describes Jerusalem as its eternal undivided capital

It annexed the eastern portion of the city, including the holy sites, immediately following the 1967 war in a move not recognized internationally.

While Gomaa’s visit has drawn a wave of criticism in Egypt, the Palestinian Authority has welcomed it as a gesture of solidarity. Mahmoud al-Habash, the Palestinian minister responsible for religious endowments, told Reuters on Sunday the criticism had no religious or political justification.

He expected other Islamic figures to visit the city soon.

But the Hamas movement, which governs the Gaza Strip, criticised Gomaa’s trip as an act of normalisation. (Additional reporting by Ali Abdelatti, Yasmine Saleh in Cairo and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Tom Perry and Mark Heinrich)

3 Responses to “Egypt MPs demand Mufti quit over Jerusalem trip”

  1. Cicitkudin

    Apr 24. 2012

    It seems the Egyptian people are more committed and passionate to the plight of the Palestinian people than a morally-controversial local politician who recently pledged a conditional support for all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel. His supporters and followers, some of whom belonged to a self-acclaimed Islamic party, paled in comparison to the Egyptians in this quest. Yet they are shouting at the top of their voice to be the champion of the oppressed and of building up a nation of God Almighty. Months have passed by and the critical mass are still waiting for the next course of action by the spiritual leader of the socalled Islamic party when his stern warning to the politician to retract his statement went unheeded till today. And no calls whatsover from within the Islamic party to the politician to vacate his parliamentary seat and no demands heard of from any of the self-righteous members of the Islamic party for breaking of political pact with the party of the said politician. Cakap tak serupa bikin.

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  2. warisatuliman2011

    Apr 24. 2012

    A.w.w. friends and countrymen. If the same rule applies, all lebais and the so-called ‘Muslim activists’ in PAS and PR shld put similar pressure on Anwar the Munafikun for his uncalled for remark to ‘protect the survival and interest of the Zionist regime’. But the reality is so glaring. The lebais and ‘religious acitivists’ are more interested in the monetary and worldy rewards at the expense of Muslims’ unity. They have decided to befriend the enemy of Islam, Allah s.w.t. and Rasulullah s.a.w. Don’t blame anybody if the Wrath of Allah befall on them! They deserve it! Salam.

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  3. ron95

    Apr 23. 2012

    i’m still wondering why all some islamic arab’s even for mufti’s clearly wanna befriends with zionist and i’m feeling what his purposes?. Indoctrinated by the Western propaganda?surely many islamic liberal group was behind with his trip to jerusalem or baitulmaqdis could be more offical than let it be personal.

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