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Sami in Palestine: The Passing of Abu Amar

It was before the first light of day when the prayers started. They came crackling through mosque speakers as tired and worn as throats weary from two intifadas worth of shouting. They permeated stone and concrete walls of camps and villages, and roused fitful dreams in the sleepy heads of the resistance, and they didn't stop. They didn't stop like the everyday morning call to prayer of Ramadan. They continued all morning, all afternoon, and into the night. "He's dead," they said when I awoke, "the old man is dead," but everyone already knew.

That day there was a demonstration in the town square in Nablus, as in every Palestinian town to memorialize Abu Amar, known to the rest of the world as Yasser Arafat. Shops, schools, and other establishments were closed for 3 days to show respect. Likenesses of the late president plastered the territories from the sides of buildings to the hoods of taxis. Crowds gathered in the streets donning their keffiyas, carrying flags, banners and guns, shooting into the air to punctuate eulogies. It was a show of pride, nationalism, unity, and defiance. It was a show of love, reverence, and grief.

[ sami in palestine ]