Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Abdul Sattar Qassem's Ordeal
By Khalid Amayreh
ccun.org, April 26, 2009
Abdul Sattar Qassem: “They kept me in the company of criminals and
Just released from a PA lockup ostensibly in connection
with his outspoken criticisms of the Palestinian Authority, Abdul Sattar
Qassem has accused his incarcerators of mistreating and humiliating him.
“They kept me in the company of criminals and murderers all these
Qassem was arrested by the Preventive Security Force (PSF)
last week on what seemed to be fabricated libel charges filed against him by
two members of PA security agencies.
Qassem, a former presidential
candidate and Professor of Political Science at al-Najah University in
Nablus in the northern West Bank, said he believed his detention was meant
as a warning against criticizing the PA government and security apparatus.
He described his ordeal as a “self-defeating act” for the PA, saying
that he would continue to call the spade a spade irrespective of
intimidation from the security agencies.
“freedom of speech and
expression is a paramount issue over which there can be no compromise.
Shielding this freedom from the forces of repression and despotism is a
collective responsibility. If we tolerate violations of our human rights and
civil liberties, then we will be jeopardizing our future as a people.”
Qassem strongly denied PA allegations that he had “besmirched the image” of
certain PFC members during a television interview.
“I have been a
victim of intimidation, assault and vandalism. I was always careful to
submit a complaint against the perpetrators. However, instead of arresting
the perpetrators and prosecuting them for their crimes, the PA authorities
decided to arrest me. Isn’t that strange?”
Qassem spoke defiantly,
saying that he wouldn’t be silenced.
“This country is our country,
this land is our land, Falastin (Palestine) is our homeland, we have no
other homeland, and we shall remain faithful to our faith, values, history
and the legacy of our forefathers.”
PA political and security
officials labeled Qassem’s arrest “criminal rather than political.” However,
most observers in occupied Palestine are convinced that the arrest of Qassem,
a well-known political intellectual, was motivated by a desire on PA part to
punish and intimidate political opponents.
The PA continues to
detain dozens of political activists and journalists on suspicion of being
associated or affiliated with the Hamas movement.
Last week the PA
arrested journalist Mustafa Sabri from his home in the northern West Bank
town of Qalqilya.
The arrests coincide with the resumption in Cairo
of the Hamas-Fatah dialogue.
Sources in Cairo reported that the
main stumbling block impeding a national reconciliation agreement lied in PA
demands that Hamas recognize Israel and abandon resistance to the Israeli
Hamas refuses to recognize Israel as a matter of