Hamas Arafat 298 88.
(photo credit: AP)
A global Islamic movement that wants bring Muslims back to the roots of their religion drew a crowd of more than 10,000 at a rally Saturday and denounced the moderate Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank as infidels.
However, the Liberation Party espouses non-violent change, and PA security officials said they would not restrict the movement's activities as long as it does not resort to violence.
The movement's annual rally was held at a time of heightened tension between the Hamas and the moderate Fatah movement of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas seized control of Gaza in June, and Abbas' security forces cracked down on Hamas in the West Bank in response.
The Liberation Party, founded in 1953 by a Palestinian cleric in Jerusalem, calls for re-establishing the caliphate, or Islamic state, across the Muslim world.
Saturday's rally was held on the sports field of the Quaker-run Friends School, a private English-speaking school. "The caliphate is coming," read a large poster on the wall of the field.
Several tents were set up, and speakers explained in detail what an Islamic state would look like. They said 13 ministries would be established, including for media and foreign affairs.
In a statement distributed in the crowd, the movement said the Palestinian Authority, a result of interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals a decade ago, was set up by infidels and is fighting against the caliphate.
"It's known that no one fights the caliphate, expect for infidels or representatives of the infidels," the statement said. "The employees in the Palestinian Authority are supposed to be Muslims. How can they stand with the infidels fighting their religion and their nation."
Several speakers addressed the crowd, interspersed by shouts of "Allahu Akbar," or God is great. The current leader of the group, Ata Abu Rishta, told the audience by telephone that pro-U.S. leaders in the Arab world are being used by the U.S.
Hazem Bader, a member of Liberation Party, said an Islamic state is "nearer than ever," but that holy war would have to wait until that state has been established.
Yousef Assaf, 67, said he came from the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem for the rally. "I want it (an Islamic state) to return because it's fairness, the base of religion."
A few Palestinian policemen stood outside the field, and organizers said one of the group's cars had been confiscated.
On its Web site, the party said it planned rallies Sunday in Indonesia, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Malaysia.