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Egyptian FM attacked in Jerusalem

Maher, right, meets with Sharon in the prime minister's office Monday.
Maher, right, meets with Sharon in the prime minister's office Monday.

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Muslim worshippers attacked Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher Monday as he tried to worship at the Al Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's most sacred shrines.

Officials said dozens of worshippers inside the mosque, said to be members of a small extremist Islamic group called the Liberation Party, threw shoes at him -- an Arab sign of disrespect -- and shouted "Allah u Akbar" (God is great).

A spokesman for the Jerusalem police said officers stationed outside the mosque heard the commotion, and the foreign minister's entourage hurriedly escorted the disheveled Maher out.

Israeli officials said Jerusalem police took him to an ambulance waiting at the Mugrabi Gate, where he was checked, and the ambulance later took him to Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center for further examination.

The extent of Maher's injuries were not known, but he was said to be in good condition.

The mosque is on the site known by Jews as the Temple Mount -- Judaism's most sacred spot -- and by Muslims as the Haram el Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, traditionally the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Saeb Erakat said that the Palestinian Authority condemned the attack.

Maher met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and said he hoped to see both sides take steps soon to implement the U.S.-driven "road map" to Mideast peace.

Egyptians have been trying to persuade Palestinian militant groups to agree to a cease-fire. Maher said he might willing to go along.

Maher was meeting only with Israeli officials on the trip, and had no plans to visit Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, an Israeli condition for Monday's visit. Maher said he would return for a meeting with Palestinian leaders.

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