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The disgraceful silence

January 28, 2014 at 1:49 am

Last Wednesday, May 8th, the Jordanian Parliament voted on a resolution calling on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman and to summon the Jordanian ambassador to Tel Aviv in an expression of protest and anger over the escalation of Israeli violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This was reported in Egyptian newspapers and read by millions, but no one lifted a finger, neither in the regime nor in the Shura Council the majority of who are from the Muslim Brotherhood or are Salafi. Most people think that the Muslim Brotherhood were trying not to embarrass the government and the president, who preferred silence, while the Salafis were uninterested in the issue since they consider their battle against the Shiites as the issue and duty of the hour.

I realise that public opinion in Egypt is heavily dependent on internal affairs, and we no longer hear anything other than defamation of the Brotherhood and the call to overthrow President Morsi in our media. This has obscured the true role that should be played by the great “Arab neighbour”, not to mention the fact that this neighbour, which is Egypt, is currently heading the Organisation of Islamic Conference as a result of the burning of the eastern part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This is quite ironic because the fire, which broke out in one part of the mosque at the time, mobilized the Islamic nation to hold an emergency summit which resulted in the formation of the organization in question. However, violating the entire mosque and putting it at risk of collapsing at any moment has not stirred Egypt in the slightest, nor the Arab or Islamic world.

120 settlers, guarded by Israeli police, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They prevented the prayer being held in it and the Mufti of Jerusalem was arrested for several hours. That was just one episode in a long series of violations that has put the future of the mosque in great danger. The Jerusalem Municipality has already announced that all the mosque’s courtyards are open to settlers except for the al-Jami’ al-Qibli and Dome of the Rock. Furthermore, the Knesset is considering a project to divide the mosque between the Muslims and the Jewish people, similar to what happened in the Ibrahimi Mosque. This would mean that Muslims would be denied access on particular days or particular hours during the day, from 7 am to 1:30 pm, so the Jewish people could perform their rituals and prayers. After the Mughrabi Gate was monopolised by settlers and tourists, a new bridge is now being built to replace the Mughrabi bridge which will be used to give access to soldiers and machines; not to mention the excavations under the mosque, which will result in the establishment of more than one Jewish synagogue, and will ultimately leave the mosque hanging in mid-air and prone to collapsing with any simple earthquake.

While the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s sanctity is being violated in this way, the process of Judaising Jerusalem and changing its demographic composition is vigorously continuing before our eyes. It is also known that there is a project to build 50,000 new settlement housing units over the next ten years. This process is now quietly being executed, as every once in a while, several hundred housing units are built at a time.

Ironically, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Jacob Amitay, and expressed protest at the mistreatment of its embassy members in Tel Aviv while they were on their way to participate in Easter Mass in Jerusalem. This was the same the Jordanian Parliament decided to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman in protest at Israeli violations in Jerusalem was announced. According to a statement by the spokesperson for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, during the meeting the ambassador was informed of Egypt’s condemnation of raids carried out by Israel in the Syria recently. However, the Egyptian spokesperson did not mention, in any way, the position of Egypt regarding Israel’s violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem.

Egypt’s official silence is not understandable, and the silence of the Egyptian people, who should be represented by the Shura Council at the moment, is incomprehensible. It was also clear that the demonstration, which started from Al-Azhar, with limited numbers, in protest against the aggression against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was not attended by the Brotherhood and its large numbers.

I haven’t found a convincing explanation for this reluctance and why we haven’t heard from Egypt, the Arab “big sister”, or the head of the Organization of Islamic Conference. We must also be surprised by the silence of the Shura Council, although some of its members, who are leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, urged the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Cairo in the media. If we are so weak, to the extent that drives us to surrender to condemnable silence, what would we have done if we were required to actually take action, not merely make a statement that would record our honourable stance at a critical moment such as this?

The author is an Egyptian writer. This article is a translation of the Arabic version which first appeared in Al Shorouk Newspaper, 12 May, 2013

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.