Cablegate: Turks Protest Yassin's Death, Condemn Israel, U.S.

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (u) Summary: Protesters burned Israeli and American flags
at a symbolic funeral held for the former Hamas leader
Sheikh Ahmad Yassin following the noon prayer on Friday,
March 26, in the Sultanahmet district, in central Istanbul.
About 5,000 people participated in the demonstration
organized by the Palestine's Friends Initiative, a group
that includes some of Turkey's major Islamic NGOs. End

2. (u) Following the Friday noon prayer on March 26, a large
group of about 5,000 people gathered in Sultanahmet Square
to protest the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The
demonstration was planned by the Palestinan Friend's
Initiative, a movement which includes some of Turkey's major
Islamic NGOs, including Mazlum-Der, Ozgur-Der, Insan Vakfi,
and the Association of Jurists.

3. (u) The organizers galvanized the crowd by hanging a
Sheikh Yassin poster from one of the mosque's windows,
distributing Palestanian flags, and shouting slogans,
including "Sheikh Yassin, your way is our way," "Down with
Israel," "Down with American Imperialism," and "Hail to
Hamas, go on resisting." The mood of the crowd reached a
frenzy when an effigy of Israeli PM Ariel Sharon and Israeli
and American flags were set on fire. The demonstration was
concluded with a funeral prayer for Yassin and speeches
criticizing Israel and the US.

4. (u) The protest was held under the watchful eyes of a
large riot squad from the Turkish National Police. The
organizers were careful to warn the crowd to disperse
peacefully and at no point did the police intervene.

5. (u) Comment: Islamists in Istanbul were quick to condemn
Israel's actions, with many echoing Saadet Party leader
Recai Kutan's remarks, "We once again see that the biggest
terrorists are Israel and the US." This outrage was shared,
to a certain extent, by many Istanbul residents across the
political spectrum. Even Prime Minister Erdogan, perhaps
motivated in part by the March 28 municipal elections,
described Yassin's death as a "terrorist action."


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