Is Turkey hoping for a return of the Ottoman Empire to Jerusalem?
Turkey is reportedly positioning itself as a Muslim power in Jerusalem by investing millions of dollars in the Old City and the Temple Mount.
According to an investigative report, due to be published in full in the coming weekend edition of Israel Hayom, the Turkish government-funded Cooperation and Coordination Agency, also known as TIKA, has invested millions of dollars into 63 different projects “defending and strengthening the Muslim heritage and character of Jerusalem” since 2004.
Turkey has teamed up with Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which was outlawed in November 2015, as well as with former Jerusalem mufti Sheikh Akram Sabri. Both are opposed to Israel’s existence.
Another Turkish organization has contributed funds to transporting male and female Islamic activists, known as Murabitoun and Murabitat respectively, to the Temple Mount. Jewish visitors to their holiest site have been intimidated and harassed by these Muslim fundamentalists, seeking to undermine peace in the Old City, for years. They, too, were recently banned.
Among other activities, TIKA has invested resources in restoring the Ottoman Muslim archives on the Temple Mount, renovated the Muslim cemetery adjacent to the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, and been involved in numerous community-related work throughout the eastern sections of Israel’s capital.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has consistently supported TIKA’s work and condemned Israel’s control of Jerusalem, which he labels “an insult.”
Last month, in a speech at the International Al-Quds Forum in Istanbul, Erdogan urged Muslims to make frequent visits to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount, in order “to protect the Muslim identity” of the site, the Turkish daily Sabah reported.
“As a Muslim community, we need to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque often; each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us,” he was quoted as saying.
While Turkey is enhancing its position in Jerusalem, the influence of Jordan, the traditional custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim sites, appears to be declining.
Visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City can easily notice the increased Turkish presence through the numerous Turkish national flags on display. In addition, Turkish culture and cuisine are becoming more popular in the area. Turkey’s government also covered some of the expenses for the new golden crescent atop the Dome of the Rock a few years ago.
By: Daniel Krygier, World Israel News