By Mucahit Turetken and Cigdem Alyanak
ISTANBUL (AA) – Academics in Istanbul lashed out on Monday at last year’s U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying history supports Palestinians’ right to exist in the holy city.
“The expression 'Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years' isn’t true. Their complete domination of Jerusalem has been for 494 years,” argued Nuh Arslantas, a theology professor at Istanbul’s Marmara University.
He was speaking during a conference on “Jerusalem: The City Blessed by Revelation” organized by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate.
The meeting aims to draw attention to the importance of Jerusalem in Islam and to keep alive solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people as well as promote the cause of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jews entered the city and settled there after Umar bin al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam, conquered the city in 638, Arslantas said.
“The Romans and Byzantines banned Jerusalem for Jews after seizing Jerusalem and they were unable to enter the city for 500 years.”
Even the Jewish Torah confirms that Palestinians should be present in Jerusalem, Palestinian researcher Raid Nesibah told the meeting.
“Real history shows that these unfounded stories [from Israel] are unreal,” he said.
“Some have tried to make a decision taken by a country [U.S.] accepted by the whole world. Science and history show our rightness. They show it is our right to be there," he added.
Around 70 Muslim scholars and researchers from 20 countries -- including Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Britain, France, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda -- took part in the two-day event.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Last December, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The controversial decision created anger among Muslims and faced opposition worldwide.