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Islamic leaders condemn terrorism

Yasser Arafat speaks and Sheik Hamad Al Thani
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat speaks to Qatar's Sheik Hamad Al Thani  


By CNN's Jane Arraf

DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- As the U.S.-led bombing raids continue in Afghanistan, Islamic leaders meeting in Qatar have issued a statement condemning terrorism.

However, the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference said nothing about the airstrikes under way against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, Islamic militant Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.

"We have endorsed a global consensus and condemnation of terrorist acts, condolence and sympathy with the United States and a commitment to eradication of international terrorism," Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said.

What was left out of the final communique was any statement on the U.S. bombing.

Pro-Western Muslim states said it was the only way to prevent anti-Western states from including a condemnation of the U.S. military response to the terror attacks on New York and Washington.

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Even states that have always opposed the Taliban said the U.S. attacks would not stop terrorism.

"It should be proved this military attack should be useful -- I don't find it useful. That is why our position is that this war is not acceptable," Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said.

An address by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to the OIC offered foreign ministers something to agree on -- that they see a difference between terrorism and a struggle against occupation.

"What is happening in Palestine or southern Lebanon, we don't consider that terrorism. This is resisting an occupation and we call upon everybody to go back to negotiations to solve these problems," said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani.

Although chief suspect in the September 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden has linked the attack to the Palestinian struggle, Palestinians said he has nothing to do with Palestine and has hijacked their cause.

But it is the Palestinian cause -- and U.S. support for Israel -- that has fed many protests in the Arab world against the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan.

Some of the foreign ministers to the Islamic conference said the final statement that avoided mention of the U.S. attacks bowed to public opinion -- a public opinion that sees U.S. power in the region a greater threat than terrorism.

Officials at the conference said if the attack widened beyond Afghanistan, they would have even more problems with public opinion at home.



 
 
 
 


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