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African Analyst Discusses Effect Of Arafat's Death

  • William Eagle

The foreign desk editor of the Cairo-based Al-Ahram, Gamal Nkrumah, says there’s “resignation” in the Egyptian capital to the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Mr. Nkrumah, the foreign desk editor of Al-Ahram weekly in Cairo, is the son of Ghanaian independence leader Kwame Nkrumah.

He says Mr. Arafat died during Ramadan, the Muslim period of fasting; he says those who die during that time are blessed, and their death is considered to be “the will of God.”

Mr. Nkrumah says Egyptians consider him to be a moderate and do not blame him for hijackings, suicide bombings, or the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. He says Mr. Arafat condemned attacks on civilians and was not responsible for other militants who were behind them. Western governments disagree. Mr. Nkrumah notes that African independence leaders, especially in southern Africa, held the Palestinian leader in high esteem.

For example, he was invited to attend regular meetings of the Organization of African Unity and the African Union. Mr. Nkrumah says Mr. Arafat shared the same ideology as former South African president Nelson Mandela, who himself was a liberation fighter.

Mr. Nkrumah says both men fought against what they considered to be colonial settlers displacing the indigenous owners of the land.

Mr. Nkrumah spoke with English to Africa reporter William Eagle.