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Al-Aqsa Mosque closed to Muslim worshippers to protect their lives

The Jerusalem-based Islamic Waqf Council has managed to close Al-Aqsa Mosque because of the coronavirus outbreak, amid fears that Jewish extremists would take advantage of the crisis.
JERUSALEM - MARCH 15: Muslims perform prayer outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque after the Islamic Waqf Department announced to close the enclosed prayer places as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Jerusalem on March 15, 2020. According to the statement, all prayers remain to be held in the [outdoor] courtyard and all doors will be open to worshipers. (Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Council announced an unprecedented decision March 23 to temporarily deny Muslim worshippers access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest house of worship. The decision taken by the Waqf Council was a bitter one, according to a statement issued by the council, which is comprised of leading Jerusalemites and appointed by Jordan, the custodian of holy places in Jerusalem.

A senior official in Amman who asked not to be identified told Al-Monitor that earlier Israeli attempts to convince Jordan to unilaterally suspend prayers at the mosque failed when Israel tried to link the decision with the end of daily visits by Jewish groups.

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