Ankara is reportedly pouring millions of dollars into east Jerusalem, the Old City and the Temple Mount in a concerted effort to position itself as a Muslim power in the city • As Turkey attempts to restore Ottoman glory, Jordan’s influence is waning.
and Israel Hayom Staff
Women of the Murabitat organization, funded by Turkey
A century after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish foundations and organizations are making a concerted effort to enhance the country’s prominence as a Muslim player in Jerusalem by funneling millions of dollars to the eastern section of the city and the Temple Mount area, Israel Hayom has learned.
A portion of the funds are provided by the Turkish government, which funds the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, otherwise known as TIKA. The president of TIKA is Dr. Serdar Cam, a close confidante of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and formerly the head of his bureau in the Turkish parliament. Erdogan supports TIKA’s activities and encourages the organization through his speeches decrying Israeli control in Jerusalem, which he sees as “an insult.”
Since 2004, TIKA has invested millions of dollars in 63 different projects in east Jerusalem. The general trend of its activities there is “protection and strengthening of Jerusalem’s Muslim heritage and character.” Turkey’s allies in the city are the head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, and the former mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Akram Sabri, both bitter enemies of the State of Israel.
Among its endeavors, TIKA has invested in restoring the Ottoman Muslim archives on the Temple Mount; placing a large water tanker for worshippers at the site; restoring Shashelet Street in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter; renovating the Muslim cemetery at the foot of the Temple Mount’s eastern wall; and in a considerable number of religious and community projects throughout east Jerusalem.
Another Turkish association partially funded the buses that have transported male and female Islamic activists — known as murabitun and murabitat?? — to the Temple Mount.
The Murabitun and Murabitat fundamentalist organizations, which operate under the guise of Muslim study groups, have for years engaged in harassing and intimidating Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount and disturbing the peace. Other active groups are the Istanbul-based Our Heritage Foundation, which over the past decade has invested $40 million primarily in the Old City, and the Lights Foundation, which donated $140,000 to Taawun, a Palestinian organization dedicated to preserving Muslim heritage.
The Turkish presence in the Old City is easy to notice. Turkish national flags are on display everywhere, while Turkish food and culture are becoming increasingly popular. The faded crescent symbol atop the Dome of the Rock was replaced several years ago with a golden crescent, paid for in part by the Turkish government.
This intensive Turkish activity, meanwhile, has eroded Jordan’s influence and stature in the Old City. Within the framework of its peace accord with Israel, Jordan was promised seniority status over Jerusalem’s Islamic holy …read more