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Bethlehem sit-in enters sixth day

March 21, 2011 9:24 A.M. (Updated: March 22, 2011 10:00 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The public square separating the Nativity Church and the Mosque of Omar has been slowly festooned with tents, flags and posters as an increasing number of young Palestinians gather in a call for political unity.

At least 25 young men slept in the square on Sunday night, telling Ma'an as they prepared for the evening that they would remain until unity was achieved.

One of the protesters, Yazen Az-Zubiedi, said the group was sending a message to President Mahmoud Abbas and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh: "the interest of our homeland is bigger than all of us."

Az-Zubeidi said that ten young men slept in the tent on the first night of the protest. He attributed the increase in sit-in protesters to the support the group has been getting by day.

"Young men and young women, school children and university students, national and figures and politicians, mayors and civil society groups, they are coming to the tent every day and showing their support.

Tents, flags and poles have been donated by different groups supporting the effort, he said.

Art and music events are hosted each night in Bethlehem, paralleling what has become a Ramallah concert series with Palestinian songsters appearing live and via videofeed.

"Young men and children who chant, sing and call for unity," Az-Zubeidi said, have given a real boost to the protest, which he says will only gain in momentum over the coming days.

"We will not get tired, we will not go home until division ends," he said.
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