JERUSALEM (JTA) — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey called on Turks to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque often to protect its Muslim identity and accused Israel of “massacres” against the Palestinians.
“Turkey attaches great importance to the justified resistance of the Palestinians and will not yield to Israeli attempts to change the status quo in the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Erdogan said, according to the Daily Sabah newspaper. “We as Muslims should visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque more often; every day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”
The mosque is located in Jerusalem on what Jews call the Temple Mount.
Erdogan also criticized an Israeli bill that would limit the volume of the Muslim call to prayer.
“It is disgraceful for those who lecture us about the freedom of religion to turn a blind eye to this attempt. Turkey will not let these attempts against freedom of belief [prevail],” Erdogan said.
He added that the international community remains silent on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. “It is impossible to establish peace in the region if the international law remains indifferent to massacres and cruelty,” he said.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded in a statement issued on Monday night.
“Those who systematically violate human rights in their own country should not preach to the only true democracy in the region,” the statement said. “Israel consistently protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians – and will continue to do so despite the baseless slander launched against it.”