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Muslim Leaders Express Qualified Acceptance of Hamas Victory


Muslim leaders attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, expressed qualified acceptance Thursday of Hamas' sweeping victory in the Palestinian elections.

Hamas' landslide victory in the Palestinian elections has sparked concern on the part of U.S. and European governments, as well as in Israel, which Hamas claims has no right to exist. But at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Queen Rania of Jordan, who is of Palestinian origin, offered a more cautious perspective on the Hamas victory.

"It remains to be seen how Hamas will step up to the plate now they're in a position of responsibility: Whether they will pursue a peaceful track and change their course or whether they will remain focused on the ideology they've propagated in the past," she said.

That wait-and-see attitude was echoed by several other Muslim leaders. After all, Afghan President Hamid Karzai noted, the Palestinians voted in democratic elections.

"If the people of Palestine have expressed their will by voting for Hamas, we should respect that will, and give Hamas [a chance] to prove itself while in government," he said.

Mr. Karzai also urged Hamas to have what he called "the courage" to treat Israel as a nation which has an equal right to exist as the Palestinians do. And he called on Israel to treat the Palestinians as a nation, and to try to live with them as well.

And Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf noted that previous politicians who had been considered warmongers by Muslims, notably Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, had transformed themselves into peacemakers.

"Let's give Hamas a chance," Mr. Musharraf added. "If Hamas was the organization obstructing peace previously, they may be the organization to have the power to reach for peace also."

In Washington, President Bush said he will not deal with the Islamic militant group Hamas until it renounces violence.

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