CIOGC condemns the closure of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and urges the Trump administration to demand that the Israeli government reopen the mosque to Muslim worshippers.
As one of the three holiest places for Muslims, Al Aqsa Mosque holds great historical significance in the Islamic faith. Muslims were first commanded to turn towards Al Aqsa for prayer, before the Kaaba in Mecca was declared as the qiblah (the direction in which Muslims pray).
Currently, Masjid Al Aqsa has been militarized with the presence of Israeli soldiers with high-powered weapons and metal detectors. The Holy site has been occupied through the implementation of police orders restricting or denying who is allowed to come and pray, including the barring of male worshippers under the age of 50. These restrictions on access and daily movement from worshipping in the mosque must come to an immediate end.
Screening thousands of worshippers with metal detectors and unnecessary checkpoints is unacceptable. Usurping the control and autonomy of the Muslim custodians of this religious compound violates international law, restricts freedom of religion, and contravenes the internationally agreed upon status of the Al Aqsa compound. CIOGC demands that the occupation of this Islamic Holy site end.
CIOGC encourages people of faith and conscience to urge their religious leaders and political representatives to join the call for the return of control of the Al Aqsa compound to its Muslim custodians and for the elimination of all imposed rules banning or regulating who may worship at this Holy site.
CIOGC also endorses and supports the positions of national Islamic organizations including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim American Society (MAS), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) who are calling for the religious freedom of Muslim worshippers at Al Aqsa to be upheld.
Updated 7-26-17: Metal detectors have been removed by the Israeli government, however, security cameras still surround the mosque and restrictions on access still apply to worshippers. CIOGC joined a prayer and sermon for Al Aqsa on Friday, July 21 organized by the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine in downtown Chicago. See photos from this event.