MPs call on Egypt’s Mufti to resign

Parliament voted to ask Gomaa to apologies to the Arab and Islamic people and submit his resignation.

Egypt’s parliament on Sunday called on the Mufti to quit after a visit to Israel-occupied Jerusalem, stepping up pressure on the state-appointed official over a trip that critics say may legitimize Israel’s ongoing occupation of the holy city.

Mufti Ali Gomaa’s trip to East Jerusalem has caused a stir in Egypt and across the Arab region.

Gomaa has defended himself, saying his trip was in a personal rather than official capacity and a response to an invitation from Jordan. He prayed at the al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Though Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979, most Egyptians are angry with the deal because of Israeli occupation of Muslim lands.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group and the largest party in the Egyptian parliament, has called Gomaa’s visit “a catastrophe”. In protest at the visit, the Egyptian Writers’ Union also moved to terminate Gomaa’s membership.

“The brutal enemy controls (Jerusalem’s) entries, exits, mosques, and churches,” the parliamentary committee responsible for religious affairs said in a statement, recommending the vote that called on Gomaa to step down.

“Going into (Jerusalem) enforces occupation and bestows upon it legitimacy, as it also represents a sign of normalization with the Zionist entity that is popularly rejected.”

Parliament voted to ask Gomaa to apologize to the Arab and Islamic people and submit his resignation.

The country is currently governed by a council of military generals who took power from deposed President Hosni Mubarak. The mufti’s main job is to issue Islamic legal opinions.

Ibrahim Negm, a senior adviser to the Mufti, told Reuters Gomaa had not been formally notified of parliament’s vote and doubted he would step down because the visit was “not a crime”.

Earlier, Gomaa defended his trip on his Twitter account. “Jerusalem is in the heart of every Muslim,” he said. “Visiting Jerusalem increases one’s feelings of rejection of occupation and injustice and helps strengthen the (Palestinian) cause.”

While Gomaa’s visit has drawn a wave of criticism in Egypt, the Palestinian Authority has welcomed it as a gesture of solidarity. Mahmoud al-Habash, the Palestinian minister responsible for religious endowments, told Reuters on Sunday the criticism had no religious or political justification.

He expected other Islamic figures to visit the city soon.

But the Hamas movement, which governs the Gaza Strip, criticized Gomaa’s trip as an act of normalization, according to Worldbultin.com.

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