The upcoming academic year will see a Turkish university offer - for the first time ever - a master's program devoted exclusively to the study of Jerusalem. Anadolu Agency (AA) spoke to Prof. Abdul-Fattah al-Owaisi, head of the Al-Quds studies program at the Social Sciences University of Ankara. "The aim of this program is to produce knowledge, as we [the Muslim world] must have our own narrative about the Palestinian cause and Al-Quds [Jerusalem] in particular," he said.
Al-Owaisi, who hails from a village near Jerusalem, said the program was aimed at producing young scholars specialized in Al-Quds studies. "This master's program isn't only a first for Turkish universities, but for the entire Muslim world," he said.
The multidisciplinary program, al-Owaisi explained, will also focus on international relations, "as you can't understand international relations and political science without a good background in history."
Noting that the university had also recently established an Al-Quds Research Center, al-Owaisi stressed the importance of having access to Ottoman-era archives in this particular field of study. "It is a big advantage to our students to be able to access the Ottoman archives," he said.
"The archives constitute a very rich resource, especially in terms of Ottoman history and the Ottoman contribution to Al-Quds," he added. "Since the city spent 400 years under Ottoman rule, Turkey is the ideal place to study its history and influence," the professor asserted.
As for current events pertaining to Jerusalem and U.S. President Donald Trump's recent decision to recognize the city as Israel's capital, al-Owaisi said: "The weak state of the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic world gave Trump a golden opportunity to adopt this decision. Unfortunately, we have reached the stage where you can't even enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray without getting permission from an Israeli soldier," he added.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict with Palestinians hoping that occupied East Jerusalem might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement construction there as illegal.