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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Palestinian Arabs continue to adore Saddam

JPost: Three weeks after a bedraggled Saddam Hussein emerged form his spider hole near Tikrit to surrender to American troops, the former Iraqi president is still seen by some Palestinians as a hero and a symbol of defiance against Israel and the United States.

While some Palestinians have expressed horror at the scenes of mass graves discovered in Iraq, others continue to carry pictures of Saddam at rallies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But this time, the protesters are not chanting the common slogan of "Oh beloved Saddam, bomb Tel Aviv," as they have repeatedly done over the past decade.

Saddam's pictures appear at different kinds of protests, including those organized against the construction of the separation fence, as well as rallies in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, and at funerals of activists killed by soldiers.

Mon Dec 29, 7:38 AM ET

Saddam's sympathizers can be found in almost all the Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.

The Palestinian branch of the dissolved Iraqi Ba'ath Party, known as the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), remains active in several Palestinian cities and villages. ALF leaders and activists are working hard to stage pro-Saddam protests ahead of the trial of the ousted Iraqi president, which is scheduled to begin in Baghdad within the next few months. The group was responsible for distributing more than $30 million over the past three years to the families of Palestinians killed or injured during the violence, including suicide bombers.

In the past three weeks, the ALF and "Saddam's friends" have published two paid front-page advertisements in the Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, condemning the US for apprehending Saddam. . .

None of the Palestinian journalists who wait outside Arafat's office in Ramallah every day has dared to ask for his reaction to the capture of Saddam. . .

Continued . .