- Title: WEST BANK: Palestinians bid farewell to national poet Mahmoud Darwish
- Date: 14th August 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF FUNERAL PROCESSION VARIOUS OF CONVOY CARRYING COFFIN PALESTINIAN WOMEN AT FUNERAL PALESTINIAN MEN CHANTING: "MAHMOUD REST IN PEACE." MORE OF CROWDED STREETS MORE OF FUNERAL CONVOY PASSING THROUGH CROWDS
- Embargoed: 29th August 2008 13:00
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Reuters ID: LVA81JP18NSIF9OID1ML6X464QRC
- Story Text: A sombre mood hits the streets of Ramallah as Mahmoud Darwish is laid to rest. Palestinian dignitaries and fans pay last respects at a mourning gathering at the Muqata, the presidential compound, and talk about the loss of a prominent poet whose poetry encapsulated the Palestinian cause.
Palestinians gave their national poet Mahmoud Darwish what amounted to a state funeral in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday (August 13), mourning a man whose poetry mirrored their sense of loss, exile and defiance.
Large crowds filled the streets of Ramallah during the funeral procession as they bid farewell to a popular national poet.
A helicopter had brought his body from Jordan, where it had been flown in from the United States where Darwish, 67, died on Saturday (August 9) from complications following heart surgery in Houston, Texas.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with scores of tearful officials and dignitaries, received the flower-strewn coffin, draped in a Palestinian flag, at his Ramallah headquarters.
Eight uniformed pall-bearers carried the coffin from the helicopter across the courtyard as a military band played.
A vehicle topped with a yellow wreath later bore the coffin past mourners in the streets towards Darwish's grave about 4 km (2.5 miles) away.
He was buried on a hill near the Ramallah Cultural Palace, where he held his last poetry reading last month.
The official funeral, organised by the Palestinian Authority, is an honour previously extended only to Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004.
Darwish's award-winning poetry, translated into more than 20 languages, captured the hearts of many Palestinians and Arabs.
"It's without doubt a sad day, not only for the people of Ramallah and the Palestinians but for the Arab nation and the world as well. All the free people in the world feel sorrow and sadness today in bidding farewell to this poet and great literary figure and nationalist activist," Abdul Fattah Hamayel, a mourner, said.
Other mourners echoed Hamayel's sentiment.
"Today we renew the sorrow we felt when we lost other great leaders in the past. This leader -- with sorrow and sadness, we offer our condolences to his family and friends and we condole ourselves, the Palestinian people, for the loss of the great poet Mahmoud Darwish,"
another mourner, Ali Khmaisa, said.
During the three days of national mourning, portraits of the poet filled the streets of Ramallah, as did posters bearing his famous line: "There is much on this land worth living for".
Born in territory that is now in Israel, Darwish was jailed several times by the Israelis for his political activities. He left in 1971 for the Soviet Union before living in exile in Cairo, Beirut, Tunis and Paris before returning to Ramallah in the 1990s.
While abroad he rose to prominence in the PLO, but resigned in 1993 in protest over the Oslo accords that Arafat signed with Israel.
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