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50 countries to take part in Aqsa Week 2022 to promote love of mosque, raise awareness

LONDON: A UK-based initiative to shed light on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem has gone global for the second year in a row, with more than 50 countries set to take part, according to organizers.

Aqsa Week 2022, which will run from Feb. 24 to March 2, is being organized by the British-based Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) — a NGO concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary.

FOA said that during the week, which they anticipate to be the biggest one yet, mosques, universities, local councils and parliaments will hold talks, workshops and other activities and educational events to highlight the mosque’s heritage, and bring global focus to its issues and the plight of the Palestinians.

“It is an incredible week for people around the world to create conversation and raise awareness on the centrality of Masjid Al-Aqsa as well as the plight of the Palestinian people,” FOA said.

Aqsa Week, which was launched by FOA in 2017, aims to inform people of Al-Aqsa and its history and significance, as well as the dangers faced by Al-Aqsa and the Palestinians.

Al-Aqsa is Islam’s third holiest site and is in close proximity to religions sites significant to Jews and Christians, making the area a flashpoint in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Israeli government has on occasion prevented Muslim worshippers from accessing the mosque.

Friends of Al-Aqsa illustration. (Twitter)

Several of the FAO events will be streamed live on their social media accounts, as well as TV and radio, and they have chosen #LoveAqsa as this year’s hashtag.

“Aqsa Week 2021 was an unprecedented global success, receiving incredible support from government departments and prominent institutions, including the Departments of Religious Affairs in Turkey and Malaysia, the Iraqi government and the Palestinian Awqaf,” FOA said.

Meanwhile, FOA organized a demonstration on Saturday to call on Londoners to boycott Israeli apartheid, stopping at certain locations, including PUMA and British electronic retailer Currys, to raise awareness of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.

“FOA called on individuals and businesses to stop buying Coca-Cola until the company ends its complicity in the human rights abuse of Palestinians,” it said, as part of its #NotInMyFridge campaign, which says the company operates in an illegal Israeli settlement, making it complicit in apartheid.

The other campaigns they highlighted on the streets included the #PowerOffHP as “HP provides the technology for the control systems used at Israel’s checkpoints, a key aspect of the illegal occupation,” and #BoycottPUMA “until it stops sponsoring the Israeli Football Association,” which “has football clubs in illegal Israeli settlements.”

The march came on the heels of a report by human rights organization Amnesty International, which called for Israeli authorities to be “held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians.”

The report, entitled “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: A cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity,” details how Israel enforces a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it has control over their rights, Amnesty said.

“In 2022 and beyond, FOA will continue to resist any attempts by the British government to shut down BDS campaigns that pressure Israel to comply with international law’, said Shamiul Joarder, head of public affairs at FOA.

“Amnesty’s recent report on Israel as an apartheid state reminds us of South Africa and that boycott, divestment and sanctions are a powerful way to stand up for basic human rights,” he said.

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