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Kenyan MP Discusses Importance Of Arafat In Muslim World

In Kenya, the head of the Safina Party and a former parliamentarian, Farah Mohammed, says for Muslims, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is a symbol of what they see as their marginalization around the world.

He says the conflict in the Middle East is a rallying point for Muslims globally, because Israel – rather than Islamic authorities – controls Islam’s third most important symbol, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Mr. Mohammed says Mr. Arafat’s greatest achievement was the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, brokered by the United States, which brought a temporary truce in the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. He says in hindsight, the Palestinian leader may have been wrong not to accept a peace deal during the Clinton administration.

Many in the West criticize Mr. Arafat for his movement’s use of violence against civilians in Israel and in the West. The Kenyan politician says such violence goes against Islam but is a reaction to Israeli repression.

He says it’s not clear what will happen next in Palestine because unlike five years ago, Mr. Arafat and his successors to do not seem to have partners in Israel who are willing to make concessions.

English to Africa reporter William Eagle spoke with the Honorable Farah Mohammed, chairman of Kenya’s Safina party and former Member of Parliament.