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Al Azhar to host conference on Jerusalem

Representatives from 86 countries will attend event that seeks to put Arab-Islamic identity of holy city into global focus

Gulf News

Cairo: Prominent scholars and clerics will gather in Cairo on Wednesday for a major conference on occupied Jerusalem.

The conference, held under the auspices of President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, is being co-organised by Al Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders based in the UAE.

Representatives from 86 countries will attend the event titled ‘The International Conference of Al Azhar for Supporting Jerusalem’.

The imam of Al Azhar Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayyeb will open the conference that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to attend.

The two-day event is the latest in a series of steps taken by Al Azhar in reaction to last month’s decision by US President Donald Trump recognising occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Its agenda tackles three main themes: Raising awareness of the occupied Jerusalem cause; emphasising its Arab-Islamic identity; and highlighting international responsibility for the Israeli-occupied city.

Al Azhar has said the conference marks a “qualitative leap” in supporting the Palestinian cause, mainly occupied Jerusalem and thrusting it into fresh focus.

“Shaikh Al Tayyeb, who also heads the Muslim Council of Elders, is keen that the themes of the conference cover the whole spectrum of [occupied] Jerusalem in terms of its status, identity and history,” Abbas Shuman, the institution’s deputy head, said.

He cited “unprecedented response” to participation in the meeting from religious, political and cultural figures around the world.

“This comes in view of the importance of the [occupied Jerusalem] issue and the crucial challenge facing Palestine,” he added in a statement.

Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem has triggered angry protests in the Arab and Islamic world. The move has also drawn global condemnation.

In a sign of protest, Shaikh Al Tayyib and head of Egypt’s Coptic Church Tawadross II, have cancelled meetings with US Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Cairo. The trip, originally scheduled for last month, has been postponed to Saturday.

Occupied Jerusalem is Islam’s third holiest site. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future independent state.