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Cablegate: Qatari Residents Peacefully Demonstrate Their

VZCZCXRO3057
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHDO #0072/01 0281401
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281401Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7524
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DOHA 000072

SIPDIS

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SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAL EFIN EAID PTER GZ IS QA
SUBJECT: QATARI RESIDENTS PEACEFULLY DEMONSTRATE THEIR
SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF GAZA

REF: DOHA 50

1. (U) Summary: Thousands of Qatari residents marched in a
peaceful rally in support of the people of Gaza January 25.
The rally was organized by the Qatar Central Municipal
Council (CMC) and the office of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the Muslim
scholar and preacher. This was the first public appearance
by Al-Qaradawi since he fell ill last June. In addition to
the QAR 20 million (USD 5.5 million) of material aid pledged
by the Amir January 20 (reftel), all charitable organizations
in Qatar have begun a two-month fund drive to provide
assistance to the residents of Gaza. End summary.

2. (U) Qatari citizens and expatriates estimated to number
more than 5,000 took part in a peaceful march January 25
expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza. The march
began after the Friday sermon at the Omar Bin Al-Khattab
Mosque and moved through the surrounding streets and along
the Corniche. Marchers raised banners with slogans
protesting the ongoing Israeli "siege" of the Gaza Strip,
pledging support to the Palestinians as a national duty, and
urging the international community and international
organizations to "end the silence toward Israeli policies"
said to "starve the Palestinians in Gaza in order to force
them to kneel down before Israel." The rally was organized
by the CMC and the office of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the
Egyptian-born (naturalized Qatari of Egyptian origin) Muslim
scholar and preacher, who is typically the initiator and
leader of such gatherings. The Chair, Vice Chair, and
members of the CMC, and a number of intellectuals, opinion
leaders, and religious figures took part in the march. Many
women and children participated as well.

3. (U) Participants waved Palestinian flags and shouted
slogans expressing their solidarity and support for the
Palestinians in Gaza, such as: "The Qatari people stand
unified behind the Palestinian people in their misfortune;"
"Our blood is fuel for Gaza lamps;" "Our willpower is
stronger than the siege;" and "From Qatar, we raise a slogan
of no to starvation and no for siege." Marchers also raised
a sign carrying the names of Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya,
Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, Abdelaziz Al-Rantisi, and Ahmed Yassin
noting that "these are our leaders."

4. (U) The Chair of the CMC, Nassir Al-Kaabi, described the
rally as "an expression of the Qatari people's solidarity
with their Palestinian brothers who are facing all kinds of
violence." Also, Mohamed Nazal, a "spokesman" from Hamas
addressed the crowed via telephone, and expressed his thanks
to the leadership, government, and people of Qatar for their
continuous support for the Palestinians.

5. (U) The first sermon given by Al-Qaradawi since he fall
sick in June 2007 preceded the march. Thousands stood inside
and outside of the mosque. During the sermon, Al-Qaradawi
addressed the harsh situation that the Palestinians in Gaza
must endure; expressed that all Qataris, Arabs and Muslims
are standing behind the Palestinians; and urged Arab,
regional, and international organizations to move to end the
Palestinians' tragedy. Al-Qaradawi also expressed his thanks
to the Qatari leadership for its continued support of the
Palestinians.

6. (U) Dr. Hamad Al-Kuwari, a former minister, ambassador to
the United States and United Nations, and an active
intellectual, was the first to address the crowd inside the
mosque after the sermon. In his speech, Dr. Al-Kuwari sent
four messages as follows:

- A message to the Palestinians that the Government and
people of Qatar are with them as always on Arab and Muslim
issues.

- A message to the Palestinian leaders that they must be
unified; shame on them for their division.

- A message to the Arab governments that the Israeli siege of
Gaza is a siege against all Arabs.

- A message to the international community criticizing it for
not taking action against such severe human rights
violations.

7. (SBU) Al-Kuwari told us he was very disappointed that the
UN Security Council was attempting to draft a statement
condemning the Israeli practices in Gaza rather than reaching
for a resolution to the crisis. Al-Kuwari's speech was
followed by a speech in which Al-Qaradawi thanked Al-Kuwari
for his valuable remarks and stated his agreement with them.
Representatives of two local charity organizations also
addressed the crowd.

DOHA 00000072 002 OF 002

8. (U) In addition to the recently announced donation by the
Government of Qatar of USD 5.5, the Qatar General Authority
for Charitable Activities launched a campaign in support of
Palestinians in Gaza that would last for two months. All
local charity organizations joined the campaign. The
Al-Balagh cultural organization (which is affiliated with
Al-Qaradawi's Islam Online) also organized an oratorical
festival in support of Gaza.

9. (SBU) Comments: Though this rally was not the first of
its kind to express support and solidarity for the
Palestinians, it was significant in its size, perhaps in
response to the first public appearance of Al-Qaradawi since
his illness. While there was no official coordination with
the Palestinian Embassy in Doha, the Palestinian ambassador
and Cultural Attache participated in the march after learning
about it in the local press.
RATNEY

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