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Ashrawi slams lack of permits for Christians on Palm Sunday

March 24, 2013 6:26 P.M. (Updated: March 27, 2013 1:59 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Sunday criticized a reported shortage of Israeli-issued permits for Christian communities in the West Bank to visit holy sites in Jerusalem, a statement said.

Parishes in Bethlehem and Ramallah only received 30 to 40 percent of requested permits to visit Jerusalem, a statement from the PLO official's office said.

Several scout groups will not be able to participate in Palm Sunday celebrations due to the shortages.

"There should not even be a question of needing permits to visit one's own city," Ashrawi said.

"East Jerusalem is the occupied capital of the Palestinian people and freedom of worship is a basic human right for all of our Christian and Muslim citizens; a right which is being systematically and increasingly denied by a foreign occupying force.

"The fact that so many Palestinian Christian communities are denied their simple human right to worship freely in their own capital city is unacceptable."

Ashrawi called on pilgrims and international tourists to represent their Palestinian Christian brothers "who live only a few kilometers away, and who are cruelly denied the opportunity to partake in this important occasion."

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