JERUSALEM (JTA) – Islamist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood condemned a visit to the Al-Aksa Mosque by Egypt’s grand mufti, one of the country’s highest religious authorities.
Sheik Ali Goma, accompanied by Ghazi bin Muhammad, chief adviser to Jordan’s King Abdullah II for religious and cultural affairs, visited the mosque located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Wednesday. It was Goma’s first visit to the shrine.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement with close ties to Hamas that won nearly half the seats in the new Egyptian parliament, was among the groups that said the visit lent legitimacy to Israel’s control of Jerusalem. Goma countered on Thursday via Twitter that he entered Jerusalem from the West Bank via Jordan and not through Israel.
Some extremists, including members of the Salafi Party, have called for Goma’s dismissal.
Egyptian religious officials have refused to visit Jerusalem in protest of what it calls Israel’s occupation of eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The visit "is seen as an effort to encourage Muslims who are able to visit Al-Aksa Mosque, one of Islam’s three holiest sites, and Islam’s first Qiblah [direction of prayer]," according to a statement issued Wednesday from Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.