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Mauritanian clerics announce religious ban on normalization of relations with Israel

In this file picture, hundreds of Mauritanians rally in the capital, Nouakchott, to protest former US president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital. (Photo via Twitter)

Some 200 clerics and scholars in Mauritania have declared normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel religiously forbidden, emphasizing that establishment of ties with the Tel Aviv regime that is occupying the Palestinian territories as well as holy Jerusalem al-Quds is not permissible in any case.

“Normalization equals full support for usurping Zionists, and their siege, massacre and destruction. It has nothing to do with peace and reconciliation at all,” the clergymen said in a fatwa (religious decree) issued at the end of a symposium held at al-Tawfiq Mosque in the capital Nouakchott on Sunday evening, Lebanon's Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network reported.

The religious scholars also called on the Mauritanian government to maintain its previously declared position that it does not intend to normalize ties with Israel.

Among the most prominent signatories is Sheikh Muhammad al-Hasan bin al-Diddu al-Shanqiti, who is the head of the northwest African country's Center for the Development of Scholars.

Last month, Mauritania’s largest opposition political party announced it was intending to submit a bill to the parliament seeking to criminalize normalization and establishment of diplomatic relations with the Israeli regime.

“In line with our principles, values, and constitutional texts, which cite Sharia as a source of law, and fulfillment of the aspirations of Muslims to support just causes of nations, especially the issue of al-Aqsa [Mosque] and the Palestinian cause, we highly demand the enactment of a law to criminalize normalization [of relations with Israel], and we declare our full readiness to do whatever necessary for such an honorable purpose,” the National Rally for Reform and Development said in a statement released on January 11.

Earlier, three other opposition parties, namely Union of the Forces of Progress, the People's Progressive Alliance and the Alliance for Justice and Democracy/Movement for Renewal, had called for legislation against normalization of ties with Israel.

Mauritania fully severed diplomatic ties with Israel in March 2010.

The northwest African country had expelled Israeli representatives and closed the regime’s embassy in Nouakchott a year earlier. The move came after it froze ties in response to Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The Mauritanian government has frequently affirmed its firm support for Palestinians and their right to establish an independent and sovereign state with Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

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