Special to World Tribune.com
MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE
Monday, April 5, 1999
NABLUS [MENL] -- Palestinian students resumed protests against Yugoslavia in this West Bank city for the second day in a row as part of a campaign by Islamic movements opposed to the Palestinian Authority to recruit financial and political support for Kosovo's Muslim Albanians.
Hamas organized special prayers in many mosques to commemorate the Muslim victims of the Serbian violence. A Hamas leaflet urged Islamic states to defend the Kosovars.
Islamic groups said they plan to raise millions of dollars from Palestinians to purchase food, medicine, blankets and tents.
At Nablus's An Najah University, protesters, affiliated with the Islamic opposition Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements, burned the Serbian flag and chanted slogans President Slobodan Milosevic.
The demonstrators portrayed the Serbian expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians as part of a war between Christianity and Islam.
"This is a continuation of the war of the crusaders against Islam," said Mohammed Khader, head of the An Najah University student council. "Their aim is to purge the Balkans of Muslims. It is a new crusade against the Muslims."
Speakers at the rallies at An Najah compared the Serbian expulsion of Albanian Muslims to the 1948 Israeli war of independence in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled and in some cases were forced out of their homes.
Demonstrators said the Serbs have learned from the Israelis. "The Serbs are using the very same tactics of terror and murder against Albanians that the Zionists used against our fathers and grandfathers in Palestine 50 years ago," Khader said.
Hassan Al-Jujo, an Islamic preacher in Gaza, agreed. "From Kosovo to Palestine, we see the same tragedy, the same plight," he said.
Islamic preachers have made the Kosovo issue a theme in their mosque sermons. On Friday, Sheik Yusef Abu Sneineh, imam of the Al Aksa mosque in Jerusalem, compared what he called the tragedy of the Palestinians 50 years ago to the current fighting in Kosovo.
"This is a war of extermination against innocent civilians whose only crime was being Muslim," the sheik said.
In contrast, the PA has been regarded as hesitant in responding to the NATO air campaign and the expulsion in Kosovo. The PA has excellent ties with Yugoslavia and Iraq, which was one of the few Arab countries to have expressed opposition to the NATO offensive.
PA Communications Minister Imad Falouji said on Sunday that the PA will be part of a larger Arab and Islamic effort to help the Kosovars. "The PA has a clear position," he said during a tour in Gaza. "There is solidarity with the Muslims there. We are against the brutal attacks going on."
Falouji said the Arab and Islamic states will convene to organize the shipment of humanitarian aid to Kosovo refugees. "Israel is not the only state that is taking this action [of sending aid]," he said.
Monday, April 5, 1999
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