Washington, D.C. | www.mpac.org | April 15, 2022 — In the early hours of April 15, heavily armed members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa and began their assault upon an innocent congregation of worshippers as they gathered to pray during the holy month of Ramadan.
Perhaps this sounds familiar. It’s because it is.
The IDF did this last year, and this latest atrocity is a clear violation of the most basic right that we as Americans hold so dearly: being able to pray without fear of violence.
The symbolism cannot be emphasized enough — one of the holiest places in our faith was attacked during one of the holiest months of our faith by a military that enjoys financial and tactical support from America.
The raiding of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the resulting injury of more than 150 Palestinians is a gross violation of human rights and religious freedom. America has traditionally been a beacon of these values for the rest of the world. We must therefore swiftly condemn this violence and bring attention to the grave injustices being carried out against Palestinians as we have done with other regions.
Ramadan is the holiest time of the year in Islam. It is a time when Muslims gather around the world to pray and grow in spirituality together. The month is marked by deep devotion, compassion, charity, and forgiveness. For the people of Palestine, however, the mere act of prayer, especially in the month of Ramadan, has become unsafe.
Last Ramadan, on Laylat Al Qadr, the holiest night of the year, Israeli forces fired on worshippers gathering on the sacred grounds of Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site for Muslims. Earlier that very month, Israeli settlers and the Israeli military violently confiscated land from Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, a town in East Jerusalem.
Protecting houses of worship in America is a priority of the Biden Administration because it is the right of all worshippers to pray safely, free from the fear of any attack. Freedom of religion can only truly exist when people from all faiths and beliefs are free to express and practice their faith without any fear. For the people of Palestine, such freedom no longer exists.
Last Ramadan, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) called on the Biden Administration to act on the following. Our calls remain the same: