Masked fighters and children among tens of thousands taking to the streets to mark armed group’s 29th year.
Following recent statements by the Saudi foreign minister calling on Qatar to end its support of Hamas, social media users in the Arab world reacted in support of the Palestinian resistance movement and to counter the minister’s statements which characterised Hamas as a “terrorist organisation”.
Adel al-Jubeir’s remarks came as part of the rift between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain announced they were cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar for its support for “terrorism”, an allegation that Qatar has repeatedly denied.
The hashtag translating as “Hamas is resistance, not terrorism” (#حماس_مقاومة_مش_إرهاب), took off on Thursday.
Thousands of social media users stressed that resistance is the right of the Palestinian people in order to obtain freedom from the Israeli occupation. They also said that speaking about Hamas as a “terrorist movement” is doing a service to Israel and echoes the statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
They also said Hamas’ position as a resistance movement is not a matter to be disputed in the Arab world.
Palestinian analyst, Sari Orabi, wrote on Facebook: “We are not obliged to affirm that which is not being disputed; only the criminals and lowlifes disagree with us, and they know themselves.”
Salim al-Menhali, a UAE-based professor of international relations, said:
“It is normal that Hamas is resistance, not terrorism, for it does not attack anyone; it defends Palestine from the occupiers… what is not normal is for Hamas to be attacked to please the enemy”.
طبيعي أن تكون #حماس_مقاومة_مش_ارهاب فهي لا تعتدي على أحد بل تدافع عن فلسطين من المحتل .. الغير طبيعي أن يهاجمها عيال ارضاء للعدو
— فاضح صهاينة العرب (@fadehsa) June 10, 2017
Palestinian former prisoner, Mahmoud Merdawe, wrote on Twitter: “The [Israeli] occupation is rejoicing over some of the official Arab positions that are describing Hamas as a terrorist movement”.
Twitter user Adham Sharkawi, said: “Hamas only fights Israel, and it only bombs Tel Aviv. Linking it with terrorism is a free service to Israel, and a dumb reiteration of Netanyahu’s words”.
حماس لم تحارب إلا إسرائيل
ولم تقصف إلا تل أبيب
نعتها بالإرهاب خدمة مجانية لإسرائيل
وترديد أحمق لكلام نتنياهو !
— أدهم شرقاوي (@adhamsharkawi) June 8, 2017
Palestinian activist and blogger Ahmed Biqawi wrote: “Every once in a while, the villains everywhere force you to reaffirm, reaffirm what is already known, and this is extremely sad.”
الأوغاد في كل مكان يجبرونك كل فترة على التأكيد من جديد، والتأكيد على المؤكد، وهو الأمر المؤسف، مؤسف جدًا.#حماس_مقاومة_مش_إرهاب
— أحمد البيقاوي (@Biqawi) June 8, 2017
The Saudi foreign minister’s public statements came as a shock to many in the Arab world. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum responded to the comments saying: “The statement describing Hamas as a terror group is rejected and is a distortion of our image and shows a complete bias to the Zionist occupation.”
Ayman Nour, an Egyptian politician, echoed the state of shock, tweeting: “The Saudi FM’s statements in Paris are proof of the state of confusion”.
تصريحات وزير الخارجيه السعودي في باريس
دليل علي حاله الارتباك
— Ayman Nour (@AymanNour) June 8, 2017
On Facebook, one user said: “To the house of Saud, terrorism is the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan before that. Terrorism is the creation of terrorist organisations in the first place, and it is opening your doors to Trump, who is against Islam …”
— رجب النقيب #غزة 🇵🇸 (@ragabelnaqeeb) June 8, 2017
(Translation: “The terrorist is he who occupied the land, stole the holy sites, and oppressed the Palestinian people.”)
(Translation: “The most beautiful thing about the Palestinian people is that whenever they feel that their resistance is being targeted and that its steadfastness is being criminalised, and that its sacrifices are being scorned, they overlook their differences.”)
Qatar, which hosts some of Hamas’ political leaders in Doha, responded to the Saudi demands, saying the presence of these leaders is “coordinated with the United States” and is aimed at facilitating Palestinian unity. “It’s part of our effort to mediate between the Palestinian factions to reach reconciliation,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told Al Jazeera.
And, in an interview with Russia Today, the Qatari foreign minister said: “The US views Hamas as a terror organisation. But to the rest of the Arab nations, it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people.”