Egypt Going Down


Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

As Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, continues to draw condemnation over his visit last week to Jerusalem, Egypt’s newly democratic Parliament is now using language that effectively denies Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, and even denies recognition of Israel’s existence.

The Egyptian Parliament’s committee responsible for religious affairs, in its statements condemning Gomaa, referred to Israel only as “the Zionist entity”, and “the brutal enemy.”  Apparently, the Egyptian Parliament is no longer comfortable using the word Israel to describe its neighbor.  Parliament then voted, as per its committee’s recommendation, to call on Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa to step down.

Even Gomaa’s defenders would repudiate the peace treaty.  Writing in the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat, Lebanese columnist Elias Harfoush warned against blowing Gomaa’s visit out of proportion.  He wrote that Gomaa’s visit, while lamentable, did not represent a betrayal of Egypt on the scale of President Anwar Sadat’s.

Sadat was the leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating with Israel and ending the state of war.  He was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood.  Most other Arab countries are still in a cold cease-fire, on-again-off-again since 1948.

Yussuf al- Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Qatar-based chief ideologue, has issued a fatwa (legal ruling) determining Gomaa’s visit to be haram, forbidden by Islam.  Hamas, on its FaceBook page, has also condemned Gomaa’s visit.  “We reaffirm that this visit…meant the normalization of relations with the enemy.”

For decades Egypt’s Muslim and Christian religious establishments have forbidden followers from visiting Jerusalem’s Islamic holy sites.  But in February, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Arabs and Muslims worldwide to visit Jerusalem in a show of solidarity with Palestinians.   Several hundred Coptic pilgrims seized the opportunity to fly to Jerusalem for Easter.   Two members of the Jordanian royal family made pilgrimages, and one of them accompanied Gomaa on his visit.

According to Gomaa himself, he “remains adamantly opposed to normalization with the Jewish state.”

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