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Right-wing MK calls for ban on Muslim call to prayer;Palestinian entry to Jerusalem restricted

Sept. 12, 2008 9:17 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 12, 2008 9:17 A.M.)
Jerusalem - Ma'an - Right-wing Israeli Member of the Knesset Asterina Tertman called on Friday for a ban on the Muslim call to prayer in Jerusalem, drawing accusations of racism.

Tertman's comments were the latest in a series of perceived offenses against Islam on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

MK Ahmad At-Tibi called Tertman a "lunatic," "in need of psychological treatment."

Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Member Mustafa Al- Barghuthi, who is also the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, said "The Israeli occupation is tightening its racist and rude procedures against the Palestinians" during Ramadan.

He added in an interview with Ma'an that Israeli soldiers shoved and prodded Palestinians pouring to the checkpoints on their way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for Friday prayers. He noted that the soldiers roughly shoved him away at a checkpoint the same as other Palestinians.

The entry of Muslims from the West Bank into Jerusalem for prayer at the Al-Aqsa mosque was severely restricted.

Married men aged between 45 and 50 years old were be allowed access to the mosque with the necessary permits, while men over the age of 50 will be allowed access without permits.

Married women aged between 35 and 40 years-old are to be allowed to enter with the necessary permits and women aged 45 and over without permits.

Thousands of Palestinians attempt to enter Jerusalem through Israeli checkpoints every Friday during Ramadan, often enduring long waits. Jerusalem itself, which Palestinians consider their capital, is ringed by the Israeli separation wall, severing it from the rest of the West Bank.

On Thursday evening, Israeli forces erected three checkpoints in several in Jenin that prevented Muslims from breaking the Ramadan fast at sundown.

Residents showed reporters the three new checkpoints at the entrance of the Ya'bad village, southwest of Jenin. The checkpoints were erected about half an hour before Muslims typically begin to eat after the Ramadan fast.

Locals accused the soldiers of checking Palestinian identification cards more slowly than usual, which interrupted the movement of vehicles and caused further delays.

Israeli forces reportedly erected two other checkpoints near Ajja, southwest of Jenin, and in Tammun, south of Tubas.

***Updated at 14:06 Bethlehem time

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