- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2002

From combined dispatches
CAIRO The Saudi ambassador to Britain, a well-known poet in the Arab world, has praised Palestinian suicide bombers and criticized the United States in a poem published in a London-based newspaper.
"You died to honor God's word," Ghazi Algosaibi wrote in "The Martyrs," a short poem on the front page of the Saudi-owned Arabic daily Al Hayat on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia, where public demonstrations are banned, is one of the few Arab nations not to have daily pro-Palestinian rallies.
The poem praised Ayat Akhras, an 18-year-old Palestinian who blew herself up in a Jerusalem supermarket, killing two Israelis and wounding 25 on March 29, the same day Israeli troops began their incursion into the West Bank to crush Palestinian militias behind a wave of attacks.
"Tell Ayat, the bride of loftiness … she embraced death with a smile while the leaders are running away from death. Doors of heaven are opened for her," wrote Mr. Algosaibi, the ambassador in London for more than a decade.
In an apparent reference to Arab hopes that the United States could help end Israeli-Palestinian violence, Mr. Algosaibi wrote: "We complained to the idols of a White House whose heart is filled with darkness."
The London-based Arab weekly magazine Al-Majalla reported on Sunday that the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat also had endorsed suicide bombings.
However, Mustafa Deeb, the Palestinian representative in Saudi Arabia, said yesterday that his office had responded to queries from the magazine on Soha Arafat's behalf without contacting her and that the answers referred to Palestinians killed by Israel, not suicide bombers.
"It did not at all refer to suicide bombings, just the issue of martyrdom in general," Mr. Deeb told the Associated Press.
Al-Majalla reported that, asked whether she would let a son carry out a suicide attack if she had one, Mrs. Arafat responded: "Is there any greater honor than [martyrdom]? Do you expect me and my children to be less patriotic and more eager to live than the sons of my people and their father and president who is seeking martyrdom?"
Apart from Saudi Arabia, public demonstrations have taken hold in conservative Persian Gulf states.
In Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, protesters repeatedly have called for the closure of the U.S. Embassy and the expulsion of Ambassador Ronald Neumann.
Mr. Neumann prompted an outcry in the country when he asked during a student meeting in Manama on April 3 for one minute of silence for the Israelis killed in the conflict with the Palestinians.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Khalifa, Bahrain's prime minister, said pro-Palestinian activism in his country should be attributed to "the freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution."
But protesters should refrain from any action that could "undermine the security and stability" of the Gulf kingdom, he warned.

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