Salafists- Islamists who are more conservative than Hamas- staged a protest in the Hamas-led Gaza strip on Saturday carrying posters of Osama bin Laden and chanting “We warn you America, we warn you Europe!”
Hamas Stops Salafist Demonstration
Hamas broke up the gathering of dozens of Salafists who were denouncing the raid by US forces in Pakistan last week which ended in the death of the Al Qaeda leader bin Laden. Some other banners carried by the protesters said “We are all your soldiers Osama” and “Osama is alive inside of us.”
The square in Gaza City where the protest took place was cordoned off by Hamas police forces, who also prevented protesters from marching in the streets of Gaza City, and then gave them orders to leave the area.
Haniyeh Trying to Reconcile with Salafists
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas in Gaza, forcefully condemned the US killing of bin Laden, calling it an “assassination of an Arab holy warrior.”
Expert analysts explained that Haniyeh’s statement was an attempt at pacifying the Salafists who believe that Hamas is too moderate in their beliefs and practices. The Salafist would like to see Gaza led by a more fundamentalist Islamic leadership more closely based upon the faith which was followed by their founders.
Violent Clashes Between Hamas and Salafists
There have been several gun fights between the Salafists and Hamas in recent weeks.
Some of the signs of Hamas’ moderation have been the signing of a unity agreement with the head of the secular Fatah movement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo. Despite Hamas’ alleged moderation, the United States and the European Union officially classify Hamas as a terrorist organization because of its violent approach to relations with Israel.