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No freedom of speech in the PA

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |


  No freedom of speech in the PA


PA arrests man for saying
Yasser Arafat was not a Martyr


by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik


The official PA news agency WAFA reported yesterday that a man was arrested for “attacking and slandering” Yasser Arafat. The PA news agency did not report what the man, Khalil Al-Afaneh, had said to warrant arrest.


However, the independent Donia Al-Watan news website reported that Afaneh was arrested by the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence for posting on Facebook that he agreed with his niece that Arafat was not a “Martyr.” His niece, Namir Mughrabi, a student at Birzeit University, had posted on Facebook about student elections at the university. She wrote that Fatah lost the elections to Hamas because the Fatah student faction had chosen the name “Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc,” whereas in fact he was not a Martyr.


The PA promotes Martyrdom as the ideal and most honorable way to die. Accordingly, even though Arafat did not die in battle with Israel, but of an undisclosed illness in a French hospital, the PA declared Arafat a Martyr.


Meanwhile, Donia Al-Watan wrote that unconfirmed sources have claimed that Mughrabi is to be expelled from Birzeit University, adding that the PA Ministry of Education sent a letter to all Palestinian universities prohibiting them from admitting Namir Mughrabi because of her post about Arafat.


Palestinian Media Watch has reported on the lack of freedom of expression in the PA. In one instance, during a live broadcast, PA TV producers muted the sound when the audience began criticizing PA leaders.


The following are excerpts from WAFA and Donia Al-Watan reporting on Khalil Ali Afaneh’s arrest:


“The [PA] General Intelligence Service arrested today [April 25, 2015] Khalil Ali Afaneh, a clerk at the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Abu Dis, after he attacked and slandered Yasser Arafat, the eternal Martyr leader and the symbol of the Palestinian people.”

[WAFA (the official Palestinian news agency), April 25, 2015]


“Namir Mughrabi, a student at Birzeit University, attacked Martyr Yasser Arafat in a post on her private Facebook page, claiming that the reason behind the defeat of Fatah’s Shabiba [student movement] in the Birzeit University [elections] is that they chose the name “Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc” for its list...

Namir’s uncle, a PA clerk from Abu Dis in the Jerusalem region, commented on the post. He encouraged her for what she wrote, and said that President Yasser Arafat is not a Martyr.

The young woman's uncle is Khalil Ali Afaneh, and he was summoned by the General Intelligence Service...

Activists on Facebook called on Birzeit University to expel the student for having attacked Martyr Yasser Arafat. Simultaneously, several figures with close ties to Birzeit University’s administration stated that the university has decided to expel the student and issue a letter on behalf of the Ministry of Education prohibiting any university in the homeland from admitting the student. This was not confirmed by Donia Al-Watan’s sources.”

[Donia Al-Watan news website, April 25, 2015]


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