Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem, warned of the political undertones of holding a marathon in the disputed city and accused Israeli occupation of using a sports event to further the Judaization of the occupied territories. “The marathon is one more attempt by Israeli occupation to erase the Arab identity of Jerusalem,” Hussein, who is also the imam of al-Aqsa Mosque, said in a statement. The Jerusalem Marathon, he added, is not a sports event but another political tool to prove Israel’s dominance in the city, especially its predominantly Arab neighborhoods.
“The same will be later applied to all Palestinian territories.”
Hussein called upon Palestinians inside and outside the Occupied Territories as well as all activists who support the Palestinian cause to intervene to end the Israeli Occupation’s policy of devising all possible means to deny the existence of Palestinians.
“Efforts on the official, diplomatic, and sports levels should be made to prevent this from happening.”
...“They use the Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and other holy sites in East Jerusalem as part of the propaganda for the marathon to give the world the impression that all those places belong to Israel.”
Hussein also expressed his reservation to using the name of Jerusalem in the marathon and which makes it officially an Israeli city. The Popular National Council for Jerusalem also condemned the marathon and objected to its planned route.
The marathon, the council explained in a statement, will go right through the Old City as runners will enter from Jaffa Gate and will exist from Zion Gate.
The marathon, the statement added, will also pass by the Arab neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz and Sheikh Jarah and will reach the borders of the town of al-Issawiya, which Israel wants to seize to build a national park.
The council agreed with the mufti as far as using sports for political gains is concerned and called upon all Arab and foreign activists and rights organizations to declare solidarity with the Palestinian people and to condemn the Judaization of Jerusalem.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)
(kippah/tip to D Seidmann)