A Saudi newspaper slammed Egypt's religious minister Thursday for urging Muslims to head to Jerusalem "en masse" to make clear the city's significance in Islam.
"Why does the Islamic Waqf (religious administrators) want to convince millions of Muslims to go on pilgrimage to Al-Quds (Jerusalem) when the holy sites are under Israeli occupation," asked Al-Watan, which represents the official Saudi view.
"Who would benefit by organizing the visit of millions of Muslims to Al-Quds with Israeli visas," the newspaper asked.
It was referring to comments made little more than week ago by Mohammed Hamdi Zaqzuq, Egypt's religious affairs minister.
The paper accused Zaqzuq of encouraging the normalization of relations between Muslims and Israel.
Zaqzuq had told Al-Musawwar, a weekly Egyptian government magazine, that Muslims should go to Jerusalem "en masse continually and throughout the year to show the world and Israel that (Jerusalem) is not just an Arab or Palestinian issue but a primarily Islamic issue."
Zaqzuq argued that, if Muslims swarmed Jerusalem, "it will be impossible for Israel to swallow the city and make it its capital."
The question of Jerusalem was the chief stumbling block in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians this last July at the Camp David talks.
Both Jews and Muslims consider the city sacred -- RIYADH (AFP)
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