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Belgium denies entry to Palestinian minister - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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DUBAI,(Reuters) – Police at Brussels airport denied entry on Friday to a Palestinian minister heading for the Netherlands, after the Dutch authorities learned he was a member of the Islamist party Hamas and cancelled his visa.

“They (police) told us not to leave the plane and are not even allowing us to get up from our seats. They have acted in a provocative manner,” Palestinian Youth and Sports Minister Basim Naeem told Al Jazeera television by mobile phone.

Naeem said police showed him and his bodyguard documents which said he would be denied entry to the Netherlands, where he was due to attend a conference on the Palestinians and Europe in Rotterdam on Saturday.

A Belgian interior ministry spokesman confirmed he had been turned back.

“We acted on a request from the Dutch,” he said. “They were sent back (to Cairo) this afternoon as the Dutch issued the visas by mistake, not knowing they were Hamas members.”

Naeem said the Dutch Foreign Ministry had told him his visa was valid, and blamed the incident on what he called the Dutch “Jewish lobby” which supports Israel.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokesman said Naeem had been given a visa, but the government had withdrawn it after learning of his affiliation to Hamas, which the European Union considers a terrorist group.

A senior diplomat from the foreign ministry in The Hague had reached Naeem by telephone on Thursday night in Cairo and told him he should not have been issued a visa and that it was withdrawn, the spokesman said.

“Of course he was upset, but we made it clear he would be denied entry to the Netherlands,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the government had then learned that Naeem planned to travel to Europe anyway, and had informed the Belgian authorities that he should be denied entry.

The Dutch government last month ruled out a visit by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, saying he would not get a visa to attend the Rotterdam event because of his membership of Hamas. Naeem also belongs to Hamas, which refuses to renounce violence or recognise Israel.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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