Muslim youth gather in Turkey to support Palestine

Istanbul/PNN

Youth organisations and student unions from 30 countries gathered yesterday in the Turkish city of Istanbul for a conference aimed to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, Anadolu news agency reports.

The two-day event, which tackles recent developments in the Palestinian territories, is organised by Turkey-based Anadolu Youth Association and the International Coalition of Youth and Student Unions to Support Palestine.

“We are organizing this conference for the second year in a row with Palestine, al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Al-Aqsa mosque topping its agenda,” Salih Turan, head of Anadolu Youth Association, said in his opening speech on Saturday.

“We represent the youth of all the Muslim world who have the same feelings we hold towards Palestine,” Turan said.

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East war. US-sponsored peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel have so far failed to resolve the conflict.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Ihab Nafi, head of the International Coalition of Youth and Student Unions to Support Palestine, said the conference aims to keep the Palestinian cause alive in the hearts of people in the Muslim world.

“We organize such conferences to send a message to the whole world that the Palestinian cause cannot be erased from our daily agenda,” Nafi told Anadolu news agency.

“The Arab and Muslim peoples will not relinquish their rights in Palestine,”Nafi stressed.

Nafi said organizers have chosen Turkey to host the conference due to the Turkish defense of the Palestinian cause.

“We send special greetings to the Turkish leadership and people who maintain their support for the Palestinian cause in this sensitive era of our history,” added Nafi.

The Palestinian cause

Aamiena Breda, a student from the female wing of South Africa’s Youth for al-Quds, said she attended the conference because “Palestine holds an important place in our hearts as Muslims”.

“We came to Istanbul with a view to learn more about the Palestinian issue and gain a better perspective about it,” Breda told Anadolu Agency.

Student Ammar Hussein from Bangladesh said, “Knowledge is basically the main point of coming here in order to know the latest developments of the Palestinian cause.”

“Such conferences pose an opportunity for raising the awareness of Muslim youth on the Palestinian issue and in other neighboring Muslim countries which are in a dire need for our help and support,” Hussein said.

Istanbul has recently hosted many conferences on the Palestinian issue, the latest of which was in February where more than 5,000 Palestinians from around the world held their first-ever conference in the city.