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Palestinians in Jerusalem Express Condolences, Solidarity with US - 2001-09-12


A group of Palestinians gathered Wednesday afternoon in front of the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem to light candles of condolence and show solidarity with American victims of terrorism.

Youngsters stand silently, holding flowers and hand-made signs of condolence. They place candles on the pavement in front of the U.S. consulate to show their solidarity with Americans grieving for victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Abdel Kader Husseini, son of the respected Palestinian leader Faisel Husseini, who passed away in June, was there, too. "I want to say to the American people that we grieve with you," he said. "We feel your pain. We are very sad for what happened. We are against it."

Mr. Husseini echoes the sentiments of others who also have gathered in front of the U.S. consulate to counter reports that Palestinians were celebrating or were linked to the terrorist attacks.

Siham has recently arrived in Jerusalem. Most of her family is still in the United States. She remembers the backlash against Arabs after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing before it was discovered that an American had carried out the attack. "I'm afraid for my family," she said. "I'm afraid for my friends in the States, because I lived through the backlash of the Oklahoma City bombing and I know what happens. I know what happens when the media continues to report things that are inaccurate before they receive full information."

Another demonstrator, Mahdi Abdl Hadi, who runs a nearby research center, cannot understand who would perpetrate such horror. "People are in despair, nameless faceless fanatics in despair, and they have messages nobody can understand or realize and [they are] underestimating people's life, underestimating the value of humankind. This is shocking," he said.

Similar vigils by Israelis are being held in other parts of the city. Israel's government has declared a national day of mourning and flags across the country are flying at half-staff.

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