World

In boost to Palestinians, head of Islamic group urges Muslims to pray at Jerusalem holy site

  • Iyad Madani, center, Secretary-General of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stands in front of the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem Monday Jan. 5, 2015. Madani paid a rare visit to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging Muslims to follow suit and come to the city in a bid to strengthen Palestinian claims to the holy site. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

    Iyad Madani, center, Secretary-General of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stands in front of the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem Monday Jan. 5, 2015. Madani paid a rare visit to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging Muslims to follow suit and come to the city in a bid to strengthen Palestinian claims to the holy site. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2013 file photo, the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known by the Jews as the Temple Mount, is seen in Jerusalem's Old City. Iyad Madani, the head of the world's largest Islamic organization paid a rare visit to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, urging Muslims to follow suit and come to the city in a bid to strengthen Palestinian claims to the holy site. Madani is a citizen of Saudi Arabia, an Arab country that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and which serves as the guardian of Islam's most important sites.  (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2013 file photo, the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known by the Jews as the Temple Mount, is seen in Jerusalem's Old City. Iyad Madani, the head of the world's largest Islamic organization paid a rare visit to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, urging Muslims to follow suit and come to the city in a bid to strengthen Palestinian claims to the holy site. Madani is a citizen of Saudi Arabia, an Arab country that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and which serves as the guardian of Islam's most important sites. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)  (The Associated Press)

The head of the world's largest Islamic organization has paid a rare visit to Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque in a bid to strengthen Palestinian claims to the holy site.

Iyad Madani, secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, urged the world's Muslims to follow suit and visit Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest site in Islam.

During the visit Monday, Madani prayed at the iconic Dome of the Rock. He said: "It is our right to come here and to pray here."

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized. Al Aqsa is located on a hilltop compound revered by Jews and Muslims, and the conflicting claims to the site have frequently spilled over into violence.