Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh commented
for the first time Friday on the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.
Haniyeh hailed the "heroic Syrian struggle for democracy" during a rally at Cairo's Al-Azhar mosque.
"I salute all the people of the Arab Spring, or rather the Islamic Winter," Haniyeh told several thousand cheering people who attended a rally in support of the Palestinians and Syrians.
"I salute the heroic Syrian people, who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform," he added.
Syria is Islamic," the protesters chanted in response.
This was the first public endorsement of the uprising in Syria by a Hamas
leader, as Hamas' political leadership has so far refused to speak against President Bashar Assad's
brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Relations between Hamas leadership and the Syrian president hit an all all-time low after Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal
voiced his aversion of Assad's actions.
Haniyeh also urged the "salvation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque," saying that "Jerusalem will remain ours. We've paid with blood to keep Jerusalem Arab and Muslim."
He praised those "going against the occupation and the herds of settlers and standing firm at the gates of Al-Aqsa to
save Jerusalem and the mosque."
He reiterated that Hamas will never recognize Israel.
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