Chicagoans protest at Israeli consulate over attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque
Approximately 200 people gathered in the rain outside of the Israeli Consulate in Chicago last Friday to voice their opposition to the recent attacks at Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli security forces last week.
The protest was organized by the Chicago chapter of American Muslims for Palestine to bring awareness to the recent act of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. Among the other organizations present were Students for Justice in Palestine at UIC, the Arab American Action Network, the Council of Islamic Organizations in Chicago, Syrian American Medical Society, and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network. The protest was even included in Chicago’s snapchat story for the day.
Organizers emphasized that even though Al Aqsa is an Islamic holy site this is an issue of occupation and religious freedom that affects people of all faiths. Issar Alhindi, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at UIC, said that this is not a religious issue but a human rights issue and the Israeli occupation of Palestine is “an occupation on people of all faiths.”
Tensions began on Sunday after Israeli police stormed the mosque in response to alleged “stone throwers” however Omar Kiswani, the manager of Al-Aqsa, told Al Jazeera, that 80 “Jewish settlers” protected by the Israeli police, attacked the mosque.
Over the past few days Israeli police have continued to storm the mosque and have bannedmuslim men under the age of 40 from entering.
The conflict has been escalated by right-wing Israeli extremists who have entered the mosque including the Israeli Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel, and youth affiliated to Israel’s ruling party Likud. Because of the fact that the Ariel and his settler base have called for the destruction of the mosque and the building of a Jewish temple in it’s place some fear that it may be a possibility.
The United States State Department has said it is “deeply concerned” about the situation and that both sides should return to the status-quo. However, the United States government has made similar statements in the past concerning the expansion of settlements but has done very little in response.
Organizers of the protest stressed the importance of demanding that representatives in Congress change that precedent and take concrete action to stop Israel’s aggression.