30,000 Attend Islamic Movement Rally in Umm al-Fahm

About 30,000 people, including groups from Africa and Europe, attended an Islamic Movement rally Friday evening in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm, Israel Radio reported.

But Jerusalem Mufti Sheikh Ikrema Sabri and Israeli Arab members of the Knesset did not attending.

The theme of the annual event was "the Al Aqsa Mosque is in danger." The Al Aqsa Mosque, for which the Palestinians named the current Al Aqsa Intifada, is situated on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, and is one of the central issues in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

Last year, event organizers reported that some 70,000 members of the movement attended the rally. This year, they were hoping for a bigger turn-out, dubbing the event the "100,000 rally."

Umm al-Fahm Mayor and leader of the Islamic movement Sheikh Raid Salah seemed to strike a moderate tone when he told those gathered, in response to the attacks in the U.S. "there is no need to hurt everyone, because not everyone is an enemy."

The rally caps a series of activities undertaken by the movement in homage to the Al Aqsa Mosque as well as other holy Islamic sites around the country.

In recent years, leaders of the movement have delivered emotional speeches, claiming that dangers are posed to Al Aqsa, Islam's third most sacred site, by extremist religious Jewish groups, as well as by Israeli archaeological and political activities.

Many Israeli Arab citizens, and also Israeli security officials, are closely followed the speeches at the rally for references to the Abu Snan resident who perpetrated a terror attack at the Nahariya train station early in the week.

Similarly, followers of the movement and observers will listen for responses to this week's deadly terror strikes in New York and Washington, and to remarks about next month's first anniversary of the start of the current intifada.

The Islamic movement rally has in the past served as a platform for strident denunciations of the Israeli establishment.

Israeli security officials believe that the volatile atmosphere stirred by last year's rally was one of the factors that contributed later to the outbreak of violence among Arabs in Israel, after then opposition leader and current Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount.

Flyers and newspaper advertisements promoting the event have featured drawings of Crusader opponent Saladin and his comrades riding horses near Al Aqsa, and waving the Islamic movement's green flag. The caption read: "We've returned to Al Aqsa."