WASHINGTON, United States — Hundreds of Muslims attended Friday prayers in front of the White House to protest US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Responding to the call of American Muslim organizations, worshipers laid out their prayer mats at a park in front of the president’s residence.
Wearing traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarves or the colors of the Palestinian flag, protesters also held placards denouncing Israeli presence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum.
Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
“Trump does not own a piece of soil of Jerusalem and Palestine. He owns the Trump Tower. He can give it away to the Israelis,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told AFP.
The president is “empowering Christian religious extremism in the US,” he added.
Speaking alongside other prominent figures from the American Muslim community during the protest, Awad called upon Trump to “put the American interests first, not those of a foreign power and its lobbies in the US.”
Another protester, Zaid al-Harasheh, told AFP that Trump’s decision is “not for peace” and will “create more chaos.”
Trump’s declaration sparked anger across the Muslim world.
The Jewish state considers Jerusalem its undivided capital, but Palestinians claim East Jerusalem is illegally occupied and seek it as the capital of their future state.