There was relative calm at Yasser Arafat’s gravesite today, a day after he was laid to rest amid chaotic scenes. A service marking the start of the Islamic feast of Eid al-Fitr, which comes at the end of Ramadan, was held at the Palestinian leader’s compound in Ramallah. It is part of the festival tradition to visit graves.
The Palestinian Authority has declared 40 days of mourning. Arafat’s death was announced last Thursday. He had been treated for an unknown illness at a Paris hospital. Among those looking to his memory for guidance and inspiration were those who have taken over the reins of power. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas are two of the most high profile figures likely to feature in elections next year. For ordinary people the dramatic outpouring of emotion yesterday during the burial has become a quieter, more private grief. Hundreds have lined up to see the grave of a leader who inspired their cause to fight for an independent state. Officials say they do not consider his West Bank grave to be his final resting place. Earth from Jerusalem was sprinkled on the site, and many dream his remains will one day be moved to a permanent memorial in the holy city.