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Bethlehem activists tear down Obama billboard

March 18, 2013 5:41 A.M. (Updated: March 20, 2013 4:28 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian activists in Bethlehem tore down a billboard of US President Barack Obama on Monday.

The billboard was set up in Bethlehem's Manger Square as part of a campaign to highlight that Palestinians have been deprived of the right to have 3G telecommunication technology because they compete with Israeli companies.

The activists, representing a cross-section of political parties, civil society organizations and the families of prisoners, tore down the poster and trampled on it, before unveiling a banner reading: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment."

The Palestinian Authority had earlier said it would not object to protests against Obama's visit if organizers obtain permission beforehand, and a Ma'an reporter said there were no PA security forces in Manger Square at the time of the demonstration.

"In light of the anti-Palestinian US position, Obama is a persona non grata in Bethlehem," Munthir Amira, chairman of a youth center in Aida refugee camp, told Ma'an.

"The US administration should realize that part of the Palestinian people's suffering results from the US pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian policies.

"It is time the US administration understands that the question of Palestine is the core of conflict in the region. Without a just solution to the question, there will be no stability in the region."

Obama is scheduled to arrive in the region on Wednesday and will meet President Abbas in Ramallah before visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Friday.

US army helicopters landed in both Ramallah and Bethlehem on Monday in preparation for security arrangements ahead of the visit.

The mood of Palestinians is generally skeptical regarding the visit, with activists and youth groups calling on the Palestinian public to join Ramallah demonstrations on Tuesday against the US administration's pro-Israeli policies.

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