Thousands protest mosque measures
ISTANBUL: Thousands rallied in Turkey’s largest city yesterday against security measures Israel has imposed at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, soon after Israel removed other measures that led to Palestinian protests.
The rally in Istanbul, called “The Big Jerusalem Meeting” and organised by Turkey’s Saadet Party, drew about 5 000 people to the Yenikapi parade ground.
Protesters were brought in by buses and ferries from across the city, waved Turkish and Palestinian flags, and held up posters in front of a giant stage where the chairman of the Saadet party and representatives from NGOs addressed the crowd.
Turkey has opposed the security measures installed at the entry points of the mosque compound, with President Tayyip Erdogan warning Israel that it would suffer most from the dis- pute. Erdogan accused Israel of inflicting damage on Jerusalem’s “Islamic character”, in comments that Israel’s foreign ministry called “absurd”.
The dispute over security at the mosque compound – where Israel in- stalled metal detectors at entry points after two police guards were shot dead this month – has touched off the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.
On Friday however, the main prayer session at the Al-Aqsa mosque ended relatively calmly after Israel removed the tougher security measures, though it barred entrance to men under age 50 .
Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in a move that has never been recognised internationally.
Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, sits in the heart of the Old City. It is also the holiest place in Judaism – the venue of two ancient temples, the last destroyed by the Romans. Jews pray under heavy security at the Western Wall. – Reuters
People wave Turkish and Palestinian flags during a protest against Israel, in Istanbul, Turkey, yesterday.