Arafat 'in the hands of God'

10th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

CLAMART, France, Nov 10 (AFP) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remained close to death Wednesday as a senior Islamic cleric visited his bedside and an aide declared him to be "in the hands of God."

CLAMART, France, Nov 10 (AFP) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remained close to death Wednesday as a senior Islamic cleric visited his bedside and an aide declared him to be "in the hands of God."

"He is alive. He is ill and his condition is very bad, but he is still alive," Tayssir el-Tamimi, head of religious courts in the Palestinian territories, told reporters after seeing Arafat.

"I remained at Arafat's side for almost one hour and I asked God to relieve his suffering," Tamimi said.

The ailing veteran of the Palestinian struggle was in a deep coma at the Percy military clinic outside Paris, where scores of journalists were camped out in expectation of a new medical bulletin.

On Tuesday a series of contradictory claims about his death concluded with foreign minister Nabil Shaath affirming that Arafat was still alive though on life-support equipment, and on Wednesday the Palestinian representative in France Leila Shahid said there had been no change.

Arafat "is still alive and in a deep coma," Shahid told reporters at 1300 GMT.

"Like yesterday he is in a deep coma with complications in the condition of all his vital organs, so he is in a very critical state. The reality is that he is in the hands of God," she earlier told France Info radio.

Tamimi's arrival in Paris early Wednesday encouraged rumours that a death announcement was imminent, but the cleric strongly denied suggestions that he was there to authorise the switch-off of Arafat's artificial respirator.

"There is no question of switching off the equipment. It is against Islamic law which bans this type of practice. As long as there is warmth and life in his body, we cannot switch off the equipment," he said at the hospital.

Shahid also denied that "euthanasia" was being contemplated.

"Clearly a man of religion should be near a patient in the final phase of his life. That is why he is there, not to disconnect him - because euthanasia is banned in Islam," she said.

"People talk as if his life can be plugged in or plugged out. This is ridiculous. We Muslims do not allow euthanasia ... He will live or die depending on his body's ability to resist and the will of God," Shaath said Tuesday.

Doctors and moral philosophers are divided over whether turning off a terminally ill person's life support equipment constitutes euthanasia, and it is accepted practice in hospitals everywhere when there is no hope of a patient's regaining consciousness.

Tamimi told AFP that as a personal friend of Arafat he was there to "be at his side at this difficult time and to pray for him."

In the Middle East Arabs and Israelis were preparing for a death announcement, and plans for Arafat's funeral were being debated by political and security chiefs.

Palestinian officials said it had been agreed that Arafat would be buried in Muqataa - his battered compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah - following a funeral service to be attended by international leaders in Egypt.

Arafat was airlifted from Ramallah on October 29 suffering from an undiagnosed blood disorder and a week ago slipped into a coma. On Monday night his condition deteriorated further, doctors said.

A delegation of four Palestinian leaders visited him in hospital Tuesday.

Shaath said that in the emotion of the occasion the leaders patched up their differences with Arafat's wife Suha who had accused them of wanting to "bury him alive."

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article