Wearing a kippah (a skullcap worn by religious Jewish men), Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Western Wall — Judaism's holiest site — in Jerusalem on Tuesday, sparking the rage of many Israeli Muslims.
The official spokesman of the Islamic Movement — a group that advocates Islam among Israel's Arab citizens — issued harsh criticism against Putin, saying that the "Russian bear, who licks the blood of our relatives in Syria" had adopted a stance that "sucks up to the Israeli institution at any cost."
Putin's visit to the holiest site in Judaism was held in the early hours of Tuesday morning, following a day of meetings with Israeli leaders on Monday.
Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage — a part of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement — posted a statement on its website saying "We say to Putin and his ilk that the Buraq Wall is a holy Muslim site that is exclusively Muslim."
Muslims often refer to the Western Wall as the Buraq Wall — a reference to the wall where the Prophet Muhammad tethered his miraculous winged steed.
"[The wall] is an integral part of the blessed Aqsa mosque," the statement went on to say. "No one but the Muslims have a right to this wall or to the blessed Aqsa mosque, and all historical documentation proves the Islamism of the Buraq Wall, including the British Shaw Commission." (The Shaw Commission investigated the reasons behind the rioting in Palestine in late August 1929).
"We would like to remind Putin that the Israeli occupation, having occupied east Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque 45 years ago, destroyed an entire neighborhood, including all its homes and buildings, and turned it into a Jewish prayer grounds without any authorization or right, and later carried out extensive excavations, including excavations along the blessed Aqsa mosque," the foundation added.
During these "extensive digs, the [occupation] destroyed Muslim and Arab artifacts, and suffice it to say that the excavation caused cracks and collapse of walls in Al-Aqsa mosque and its structures. The occupation Judaized the place, and we want to stress that every stone and every structure in Al-Aqsa carries the mark of Islam and every stone in Jerusalem represents the Muslim and Arab character of Jerusalem."