Thou­sands protest mosque mea­sures

Daily News - - WORLD -

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

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Peo­ple wave Turk­ish and Pales­tinian flags dur­ing a protest against Is­rael, in Istanbul, Turkey, yes­ter­day.

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