November 16, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 152

Arab Leaders at the Ninth Islamic Summit in Qatar

November 16, 2000
Palestine, Qatar, Syria, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 152

Following are excerpts from the speeches made by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Islamic conference:

Bashar Al-Assad

"[The West] had to create a new enemy in order to maintain the tense situation, justifying [Western] hegemony over many states and regions around the world. This new enemy... is our Islamic religion, the religion of ethics, justice and love, which is culturally and educationally distorted by the media and portrayed as a religion of murder, radicalism and terror. Whenever a chaotic event occurs anywhere... fingers of blame point at Islam, even where there are no Muslims. Muslims are blamed for every violent event or terror attack until they are proven [innocent]; and usually they are [proven innocent]."

"...At the same time, to fight Islam [the West] nurtures radicalism [within Islam], to hurt Islam and the Muslims. Now, this radicalism - which was nurtured outside the Muslim nation - is described as the true Islam..."

"Israel provocatively demands that the Palestinians stop destroying Israeli tanks with the stones of the children and youth of the Intifada ...[Israel] presents the victim as the criminal, and the murderer as the innocent."

"The Palestinian people, who have lived in the land of Palestine for thousands of years, no longer have the right to live on the land of their forefathers. Furthermore, the Al-Aqsa mosque is under attack by myths and legends. They want to convince the world of the validity [of these], even if they have to fabricate history."

"This Israeli arrogance and these actions ...would not have taken place without the encouragement and support of many states... the Israelis are killing and the Arabs and Muslims are being blamed for terror and anti-Semitism, even though everyone knows, without a doubt, that we are Semites [ourselves] and are older than any other Semitic people."

"They are stepping on the principles of human rights whereas we are the ones being condemned and described as inhuman and backward. They tarnish and curse the old Nazis while they implement a new Nazism, one unheard of throughout history."

"...Although we did not gather here to declare war but to make our voices heard, [we must ensure] this voice is heard, otherwise it will remain inside this auditorium, devoid of any influence or value."

"We demand that relations with Israel be severed to prevent it from continuing its criminal actions and damaging our sacred places - Muslim and Christian, and our feelings and beliefs. We emphasize that the fate of Al-Aqsa is the focal point of the current struggle being waged between the Zionists and the Muslims. Whoever thinks that [continued] relations with Israel contribute to the safety of [Al-Aqsa] or to the protection of the Palestinian people is wrong. The opposite is true, [continued relations with Israel] contribute to Al-Aqsa's destruction..."[1]

Yasser Arafat

"...The ninth Islamic summit is convening while our Palestinian people faces a hostile and oppressive war and ongoing massacres carried out by the Israeli government, its occupation forces, and the gangs of armed settlers against our helpless sons - children, youth, women and the elderly - in order to terrify them ...and to silence their just call: ...'No' to the occupation, 'No' to the Judaization of holy Jerusalem, and 'No' to the attempt to defile our Christian and Muslim holy places."

"As you know, this aggressive Israeli war resulted from our adherence - during the Camp David negotiations - to the right of our people to our land and our holy places in holy Jerusalem, the holy places of Islam and Christianity, and from our absolute objection to the ideas and solutions Israel proposed which directly harmed our holy places and our legitimate national rights. Israel launched this war to avoid [fulfilling] signed agreements, the latest one being the Sharm Al-Sheik agreement... Still unsatisfied, the Israeli government allowed Sharon to break into Haram Al-Sharif and into the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque under the protection of thousands of soldiers and policemen who opened fire on those praying...."

"The Palestinian people adhere to the power of faith in Allah and demonstrate patience during this difficult time despite the heavy losses in human life, now standing at more than two hundred casualties, more than 9,000 or 10,000 wounded, an economic loss of $900 million resulting from the suffocating blockade imposed on us, where 380 thousand workers have lost their jobs, and a slump in commerce caused by the Israeli [border] closure."

"Despite all this, our people are more determined than ever to continue the Jihad with the help of their brothers and friends in the holy spirit of Al-Aqsa, the spirit of justice, truth, liberty and independence [until] the liberation from the claws of the plundering Israeli occupation in all of its destructive and violent forms. Our people, now waging the great national battle, know the scope of physical and economic sacrifice necessary for such a noble goal, for the sake of their national rights and to protect the Muslim and Christian holy sites. In this conflict we put our faith in all the members of our Arab and Islamic nation and in all of our friends around the world who stand by our side supporting our steadfastness, our Jihad, ...this [demonstration of] solidarity will strengthen our people's adherence to the continuation of the Jihad and the resistance..."

"[The Palestinian people] declare to the whole world, Christians and Muslims, and to the forces of peace in our region, that they reject the peace of submission [which] eternalizes the occupation of the land and holy places, and accepts a just and comprehensive peace, which ends the Israeli occupation of Arab and Palestinian lands in Palestine, on the Golan and in South Lebanon."

"The Palestinian people can recover their indisputable national rights and secure the right of return of the refugees, self determination and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with UN resolutions which recognize the rights of our Palestinian people."

"We are proud of your support for the Arab positions... which shows the commitment to the cause of Palestine and which strives to realize the resolutions of the Islamic summit ...[which] serve and strengthen the Jihad of our people, its continuous steadfastness in the blessed land of Palestine, the popular Intifada and the continuous Jihad against Israeli enmity ...our people now stand in the face of this aggression, defending the holy places, sending a clear message to all the forces of peace to act for the cause of Palestine avoiding double-standards, such as the last resolution of the US Congress, which threw the responsibility for the recent bloody events on the Palestinian National Authority, denying us US aid and trying to move the US embassy [to Israel] to holy Jerusalem."

"Our Iraqi people suffered and continue to suffer an oppressive siege. In the name of the Palestinian people, I call upon you all to take the relevant resolution [regarding that siege] in the spirit of fraternity and shared fate that bonds our peoples in order to bring this siege to an end."

"From this podium, allow me to bless the Palestinian people, its warriors, and the people of our heroic nation." [2]

[1] Al-Safir (Lebanon), November 13, 2000.

[2] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 13, 2000.

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