Tawfiq Tirawi speaks during a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish authorities on Friday banned a senior Fatah official from entering the country citing security concerns.
Gen. Tawfik Tirawi, member of the Fatah Central Committee and former head of the Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Force who had been invited to an event organized by the Palestinian Embassy in Turkey to mark the 11th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, was detained for five hours at Istanbul Airport before he was deported to Jordan.
Tirawi, who also heads a Palestinian commission of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Arafat’s death, said the Turkish authorities considered him persona non-grata and refused to allow him to enter the country.
“I don’t think this has to do with security-related issues,” Tirawi said. “The only reason I can think of is my position toward the Muslim Brotherhood and my criticism of the group on TV.”
Tirawi told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi
newspaper the Palestinian ambassador to Turkey tried to persuade authorities to rescind their decision, but to no avail.
The ambassador, Faed Mustafa, said on Saturday the decision was an “unintended mistake” and claimed that Tirawi was welcome in Turkey.
Ehsan Abed, a top aide to Tirawi, said Turkish authorities justified the ban by saying the senior Fatah official poses a threat to Turkey’s national security. He pointed out that Tirawi had visited Turkey several months ago.
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Tirawi’s Fatah faction strongly condemned the decision, saying it was directed against all Palestinians, and that the ban was in violation of all diplomatic norms and exposes Turkey’s bias in favor of Hamas.
Turkey maintains close ties with Hamas and some of the leaders of the Islamist movement are based in the country.
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