A Saudi scholar has dropped plans to film a television show in Jerusalem after criticism from a Jordanian pressure group, anti-Israel activists said on Thursday.
Sheikh Mohammad al-Areefi presents “Daa Basmatack”, or Let Your Imprint be Felt, on the satellite channel Iqraa. In it, he seeks to convince young people to involve themselves in voluntary social work.
Al-Areefi told viewers he planned to make the next episode in Jerusalem in order to emphasize the Muslim claim to it. He was in Jordan to prepare for the trip.
The visit would have been ground-breaking since many Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, have banned travel to Israel, though Jerusalem is considered a holy city in Islam.
Hamzeh Mansour, head of the Anti-Normalization Committee, said the visit was a “normalization move with Israel at a time when it is judaizing East Jerusalem” - a reference to Israeli settlement expansion.
“It would have been a big mistake on the part of a prominent scholar if al-Areefi has gone ahead with his plan to travel to Jerusalem,” Mr. Mansour told German Press Agency dpa.
The Saudi government has also reportedly instructed al-Areefi not to go to East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war.
Saudi Arabia does not have official ties with Israel, which has concluded peace pacts with only two Arab countries, Jordan and Egypt.