Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Muslims, Jews and Christians: All United for One Cause

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Muslims, Jews and Christians: All United for One Cause

Article excerpt

Hundreds of Muslims, along with a number of Christian and Jewish supporters, gathered in front of the Israeli Embassy on July 28, a rainy Friday, to show solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem who had protested nonviolently for the past two weeks, praying outside the gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque. Both the DC event, organized by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and the Jerusalem protests were held in response to Israel's installation of metal detectors, checkpoints and surveillance cameras at the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims. After Israel removed the metal detectors and Palestinians once again entered the al-Aqsa sanctuary, Israeli troops stormed the site, firing rubber-tipped steel bullets and injuring 100 Muslim worshippers. No men under the age of 50 were allowed to enter the compound for Friday prayers.

The heavy rain did not stop Muslims who came from DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland to pray outside the embassy. They were joined by Christians, Jews and others who wanted to add their voices in support of Palestinian brothers and sisters in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine. The demonstrators called for an end to all of Israel's violations against Palestinians in the Holy Land.

AMP national policy director Osama Abu Irshaid began the Khutbah, or Friday prayer sermon, by thanking God for all the blessings He has given to human beings. He talked about the significance of the al-Aqsa Mosque to the Islamic world: The Noble Sanctuary of Jerusalem is believed to be where the Prophet Muhammad began his ascent to heaven, and was the first Qiblah, the direction Muslims face when they pray, before it was changed to the Kaaba in Mecca.

"We're here to tell the embassy of Israel that if they want to deny our rights to worship as Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem, they can't stop us here [in DC near the embassy]," Abu Irshaid declared. Although the metal detectors had been removed in Jerusalem, he added, Palestinians are still protesting the Israeli occupation. "The occupation is the root of all problems," Abu Irshaid said, and it is in contravention of numerous international laws and U.N. Security Council resolutions.

"We consider the turnout to be a huge success, especially because of the weather," said Kristin Szremski, AMP's national director of media and communications. "We're here in an act of solidarity. We're sending a message to Israeli authorities that American Muslims and their allies in the Jewish and Christian communities will continue to engage with our elected officials, and we'll continue to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as a peaceful means to pressure Israel to comply with international law and end the occupation. …

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