Muhammad Ahmad Hussein

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Grand Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein in a meeting with Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz

Muhammad Ahmad Hussein has been the 7th and current Grand Mufti of Jerusalem since July 2006, when he was appointed by Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority. Hussein replaced Ekrima Sa'id Sabri, who was reportedly fired by Abbas for his growing popularity and open expression of highly contentious political views.[1]

Prior to becoming Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hussein was the manager and imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He was reportedly chosen for the position by Abbas because unlike his predecessor, he was expected to avoid controversy and self-aggrandizement.[1]

Controversy[edit]

In October 2006, three months after his appointment as Grand Mufti, Hussein stated in an interview that suicide bombing by Palestinians against Israelis was "legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance".[1]

On January 9, 2011, while addressing a crowd at an event marking the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, Hussein quoted a controversial hadith (saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad), stating: "The Hour will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jews will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: O Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."[2]

The mufti's comments were broadcast on Palestinian television the same day and then disseminated more widely on January 15 by Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli media watchdog group. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the mufti's words as "morally heinous" and compared his behavior to the former grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had allied himself Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and 40s.[2] Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has instructed the police to open a criminal investigation into the matter.[3]

On 8 May 2013, the Grand Mufti was arrested by Israeli authorities for his part in inciting riots on the Temple Mount (also known as Haram al-Sharif, "the Noble Sanctuary", in Arabic).[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Yaniv Berman (17 October 2006). "Top Palestinian Muslim Cleric Okays Suicide Bombings". The Media Line. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Isabel Kershner (23 January 2012). "2 Palestinian Legislators Are Arrested in East Jerusalem Protest". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Zarchin, Tomer. "Israel Attorney General to investigate Jerusalem mufti for incitement." Haaretz, 24 January 2012.
  4. ^ Israeli forces detain top Palestinian cleric, Reuters, Wed May 8, 2013