Euthanasia ‘not an option’ for stricken Arafat

10th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

CLAMART, France, Nov 10 (AFP) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's life support equipment will not be switched off "as long as there is warmth and life in his body," senior Islamic cleric Tayssir el-Tamimi said at his hospital Wednesday.

CLAMART, France, Nov 10 (AFP) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's life support equipment will not be switched off "as long as there is warmth and life in his body," senior Islamic cleric Tayssir el-Tamimi said at his hospital Wednesday.

"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 on arriving at the Percy military clinic.

Tamimi, head of Islamic courts in the Palestinian territories, flew to France early Wednesday to visit the sick-bed of the ailing 75-year-old Palestinian leader.

Earlier the Palestinian representative in France, Leila 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 (Tamimi) is there, not to disconnect him - because euthanasia is banned in Islam," she said.

Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaathtold had also denied euthanasia was an option.

"Now the president is very much alive and his body is resisting," Shaath told a press conference in Paris, just hours after visiting the 75-year-old leader in hospital.

Doctors treating Arafat at the Percy military hospital on the outskirts of Paris had ruled out that he was suffering from cancer or poisoning, Shaath added in a lengthy explanation of Arafat's state of health.

Wild rumours have circulated for days since Arafat was flown to France on October 29 for emergency treatment, and at least twice since his hospitalisation sources have pronounced him dead.

But Shaath said he wanted to lay the rumours to rest, and also poured scorn on any notions that any life support machines used to keep Arafat alive would be unplugged.

He said Arafat, who has led the Palestinian struggle for statehood for the past 40 years, had undergone a barrage of tests to determine what was wrong with him, and had been heavily sedated so he would feel no pain.

For the past three and a half years when Arafat had been besieged in his Ramallah headquarters by the Israeli army he had been suffering from "a variety of digestive tract ailments," Shaath said.

"So he had serious inflammations of the stomach and the intestines ... along with a period without nutrition, and this led to deterioration in the situation of the blood chemistry and the blood composition."

This had caused a "chain reaction" for Arafat's state of health which "built over time to put him into coma and then into a deeper coma as he is today," the Palestinian foreign minister said.

He added that Arafat had undergone biopsies of his spleen, as well as "other bone marrow organs to discover why the platelets have not been growing" and other tests had been performed on Arafat's colon and gastric system.

Earlier in the day, Shaath visited Arafat's bedside along with former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, prime minister Ahmed Qorei, foreign minister Nabil Shaath and parliamentary speaker Rawhi Fattuh.

He said the delegation, which had Monday cancelled their trip after being accused by Arafat's wife Suha of organising a deathbed coup had been warmly received.

"Mrs Suha Arafat, the wife of the president has really had difficult times in the last few days with the danger in which her husband is in, but today she received us in the hospital, embraced all of us and allowed us to visit the president," Shaath said.

Earlier in the day Palestinian sources had again sown confusion by announcing that the veteran leader, the symbol of the Palestinians' struggle for statehood, had died.

Denying those comments, Shaath also added that euthanasia was not an option.

"I want to rule out any question of euthanasia" to bring Arafat's life to an end, Shaath said.

"People talk as if his life can be plugged in or plugged out. This is ridiculous. We Muslims do not allow euthanasia," he said.

"He will live or die depending on his body's ability to resist and on the will of God," he said.

Shaath refused to discuss the problematic issue of where Arafat might be buried, saying only: "To us it is indecent to discuss someone's burial when he is very much alive and we pray for his recovery."

But he sought to reassure the international community that systems had been put in place to ensure the functioning of the Palestinian Authority should Arafat die.

"God forbid, when the time comes, if president Arafat passes away, the speaker of the house will become interim president," Shaath said.

The speaker would then with the help of the international community "try to arrange for elections for president within 60 days so that we can set everything on the democratic track in building our future," he added.

© AFP (combined reports)

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article