CAIRO - Despite opposition from prominent Muslim scholars, a host of religious leaders in the Balkans have reiterated support for Muslim visits to Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).
We see no problem with making such visits (to Al-Quds), a group of Muslim Muftis said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net on Tuesday, April 24.
We see that such visits serve the Muslim cause of protecting Al-Aqsa Mosque and supporting the Palestinian issue against Israeli efforts to judaize the holy city.
A controversy has gripped the Muslim world last week after Egypt's Mufti Ali Gomaa visited Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In Egypt, political and Islamist groups have denounced the visit as serving the Israeli occupation, calling for the mufti to be sacked.
Prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has also criticized the visit, saying visits to the holy city while under Israeli occupation was haram and only serves normalization with Israel.
However, Egypt's mufti defended the visit, saying it was unofficial and he entered the holy city through Jordan and the West Bank, not from the Israeli side.
The Balkan Muftis called for Muslims to join hands to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine.
We call for a conference of Muslim scholars in Jordan to agree on the best ways to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque and protect it against destruction.
Leading among signatories were Kosovo Mufti Naim Ternava, Bosnia Mufti Mustafa CeriÄ and Croatia Mufti Sevko Omerbasic.
Al-Quds is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam's third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel occupied the holy city in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of the city, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.