Islamic Movement spokesman Zain Nujidat gives as good as he gets on Israeli radio programme Yoman.
Q: Commander of the Tel Aviv District Police Cmdr. Ilan Franko said that the leaders and clerics are trying to agitate, not to calm. Do you agree?
“Just as he said that he invites everyone to visit Jerusalem, I also invite everyone to see how people are not permitted to enter and pray and then to leave in peace. This is our mosque, why not let us pray there normally without drama and without incitement?”
Q: Maybe because you are causing provocations? Maybe you throw stones and bottles at worshippers?
“That’s not true. That’s the police version. In the incident on Sunday last week, not a single stone was thrown. They tried to bring settlers in by force and then what happened, happened. It’s natural for people to pray at their own mosque. When they’re provoked and when their sensibilities are offended, it’s natural. But to say that the Muslim leadership caused a provocation, that is far off the mark.”
Q: We seem to be talking about different events. I read quotes by Sheikh Raed Salah who said something along the lines—if we have to give up el-Aksa, better we should be shahids. And Khatib also incited.
“The sheikh wanted to make it clear just how precious the el-Aksa Mosque is to every Muslim. We come here to pray according to our religion. According to our Koran, this is our mosque. This is our faith.”
Q: But you know that it’s not just yours.
“There is no compromise over this. There is nothing to talk about.”
Q: Your mosques are there, but so is the Temple Mount, and Jews are also permitted to go there and everyone should respect the other. But it seems that the Muslim worshippers, who were treated respectfully throughout Ramadan, are misbehaving.
“You present this the way you want. We’ve said a thousand times that we are willing to let in a group of neutral archaeologists, acceptable to both the Islamic nation and the Arab world, and if it can prove that there is a single [Jewish] glass or bottle of water in the el-Aksa Mosque, then we’ll talk.”
Q: But the Temple Mount is also holy to the Jews. Will you decide which archaeologists will enter?
“I want to tell you. If there were any signs of the temple, I promise you that neither Franko nor Aharonovich or any other decision-maker in the Israeli government, would let a single Muslim in.”
Q: Why is this all taking place now? Is this related to Abu Mazen, to the elections? Or the Goldstone report and Abu Mazen’s decision about it? Why now?
“Just to make it clear—what is happening on the el-Aksa Mosque began last week, before the report. At the instigation of the police. There was simply a leaflet by extremist Jewish groups—perhaps Israel Radio didn’t get a copy—that was distributed saying that they would meet every day at 7:30 there, because it is ours. And as I said, this my mosque, my religion, my Koran.”
Q: So you made a big deal of some leaflet that made no impression on anyone here, and that’s why all these provocations started?
“Why should it make an impression on you? For you it’s convenient. It makes you happy.”
Q: I’ll ignore that. Why did you take an insignificant matter make provocations out of it that could lead to a conflagration?
“Go into the web sites of these extremist groups, who come to desecrate the el-Aksa Mosque. There is no other way to describe it. They want to meet every day at a certain time, with the help of the police, who are the real desecrators. If not for them, the settlers wouldn’t get close to the el-Aksa Mosque.”