Egypt’s Islamic institution Dar Al-Ifta has issued a fatwa prohibiting public prayers and chants in support of Al-Aqsa in Saudi Arabia because it devalues Makkah and Medina.
The fatwa came after a group of Turkish pilgrims prayed for Islam’s third holiest site and Jerusalem inside the two holy sites whilst performing Umrah in Saudi.
A video captured the group chanting: “With our souls and our blood, we will redeem you, O Al-Aqsa.”
Dar Al-Ifta’s condemnation echoed Saudi Arabia’s state-run media, which accused Turkey of politicising the pilgrimage.
The fatwa said Ankara “has been using religion in the service of its expansionist policies in the region, and this has been evident in the employment of Turkish mosques in Europe, which has greatly affected the image of Muslims abroad.”
“Turkey has also mobilised imams and opened mosques to support and legalise expansionist military action in the region. Finally, the Turkish regime resorted to the employment of the Great Mosque of Makkah politically in the service of the Turkish agenda.”
It added that Turkey was exploiting religious rituals to gain popularity “by claiming to support Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause.”
Egyptian General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has come under fire from his own people for his proximity to Israel and his hand in inciting anti-Palestinian sentiment in the country.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt’s close ally, has also come under fire for normalising relations with Israel.
According to the state-run Watan the fatwa on prayers for All-Aqsa was issued at the same time the Islamic body targeted the Turkish drama Resurrection: Ertugrul, claiming that it aimed to revive the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East and regain sovereignty over Arab countries previously under Ottoman rule.
It said that the Turkish president would do anything to spread power across the world, including through soft power.
Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been strained since the ouster of Cairo’s first democratically elected civilian President Mohamed Morsi, when Turkey offered members of the Muslim Brotherhood refuge.
They worsened at the beginning of January when the Turkish parliament approved sending Turkish troops to Libya to support the UN-backed government based in Tripoli which opposes the Egypt-backed Tobruk-based government.
Egyptian MPs have asked the government to sever economic ties with Turkey and called on Egyptians to stop buying Turkish products.