Local Muslims: Arafat's Death May Lead to Peace

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Tens of thousands of Palestinians showed a remarkable outpouring of grief and emotion as their leader was put to rest in Ramallah Friday.

For thousands of Palestinians, Yasser Arafat was a symbol of hope in regaining what is rightly theirs. For others he represented a hindrance for peace in the Middle East.

More than half a world away, Muslims shared in the mixed emotions of people around the world.

"Some people say we should reconcile; others say no, this is our land, and both views are right," says Rima Beck of the Bay County Islamic Society.

"As much as we dislike Sharon and his blocking of peace, we also dislike Arafat for blocking peace as well," says Hytham Beck, also of the Bay County Islamic Society.

Western leaders are already talking about peace in the Middle East now that Arafat is gone. Like President Bush, local Muslims are cautiously hopeful.

"At least now they can get a leader who's respected around the world. Somebody George Bush can deal with, but [it] could be dangerous if they get a leader that's a pushover, might end up with a deal that really isn't good enough," says Hany Elmariah.

On the last day of this holy month of Ramadan, local Muslims say even after decades of turmoil, peace can be won.

"If you talk to people born and raised there, they all want peace. They're sick and tired of war," says Beck.

Beck says peace will be won in the Middle East when emotions are taken off the negotiation table and Palestinian-Israeli leaders take a more practical approach.


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