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Middle East

Israel detains Grand Mufti of Jerusalem

Israeli police detain Mohammed Ahmad Hussein on suspicion of involvement in a "disturbance" in the Old City.

Last Modified: 08 May 2013 11:37
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Israeli police prevented Palestinians from worshiping as they protected a group of settlers touring the area [Reuters]

Israeli police have detained the top Muslim cleric in the Palestinian territories and are questioning him over the latest disturbances at a Jerusalem shrine.

Mohammed Ahmad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was taken from his home by detectives and was being questioned at a police station "on suspicion of involvement in a disturbance that took place yesterday [Tuesday] on Temple Mount," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

"Some chairs were thrown at a group of Jews on the Temple Mount," which Muslims refer to as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, Rosenfeld said of the previous day's incident.

On Tuesday, approximately 40 Israeli settlers who were on a tour and were being escorted by Israeli police entered the al-Aqsa Mosque area, according to local media reports.

Israeli police had set up checkpoints and prevented Palestinians from entering to pray.

Condemnation

Jordan's parliament voted unanimously on a memorandum to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman, while also demanding the Jordanian ambassador in Tel Aviv be recalled, in response to the detention of the mufti, according to Jordan's Petra News Agency.

The House of Representatives voted to "demand the government request the Israeli ambassador in Amman to leave the Kingdom in response to the actions of the Israeli occupation against the al-Aqsa Mosque."

Jordan is also the Arab patron of Occupied Jerusalem.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "condemned the occupying Israeli authorities' detention of Jerusalem mufti Mohammed Hussein," his office said in a statement.

Abbas "demanded the Israeli government release the mufti immediately, and said the arrest represents an audacious challenge to freedom of worship".

Rosenfeld would not elaborate on what the mufti's alleged involvement in the incident was, saying the cleric could be released later. Senior clerics are rarely detained in Jerusalem.

Hussein's detention comes on Jerusalem Day, when Israel marks the "reunification" of the city after it captured the Arab eastern sector from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The contested site, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is built above the ruins of the biblical Jewish Temples, is one of the region's most sensitive and its fate is at the heart of the conflict.

Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad was transported from the sacred mosque in Mecca to Al-Aqsa during his Night Journey.

Israeli steps to quell Palestinian disturbances there have led to riots in the past.

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Source:
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