By Ahmed Asmar
ANKARA (AA) – Around 300 scholars, academics and researchers from several Islamic countries gathered in Ankara on Saturday to discuss recent developments in the occupied city of Jerusalem.
The 19th International Academic Conference on Islamic Jerusalem Studies discusses a host of issues, including the Israeli restrictions in Jerusalem and the role of Muslim scholars in advocating the holy city.
The two-day event is hosted by the Turkish Youth and Sport Ministry, the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs and Ankara Social Sciences University along with other Turkish charities and organizations.
"Al-Aqsa [Mosque in Jerusalem] is part of the Islamic faith and Muslims must keep focusing on the holy city and defending it,” Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told participants.
He said the Palestinians are committed to defending the holy city against all Israeli measures.
“The Muslim world has a responsibility to advocating and providing support to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa," he said, going on to thank Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his support for Palestine and Jerusalem at all international gatherings.
Dr. Abdulfattah El-Awaisi, the head of the organizing committee of the conference, said the conference aims to refute the Israeli narrative regarding Jerusalem.
He hailed Turkey’s role in defending Jerusalem and providing support with a view to enhancing the Palestinian steadfastness in face of daily Israeli restrictions.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount", claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
In a move never recognized by the international community, it annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the Jewish state’s "eternal and undivided" capital.
First held in London in 1997, the International Academic Conference on Islamic Jerusalem Studies is held annually to discuss the role of Muslims in defending Jerusalem.