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Hamas mourns Pope John Paul II

GAZA, April 2 (UPI) -- The Islamic Hamas movement has mourned Pope John Paul II, leader of the Roman Catholic Church and a pillar of moral conservatism, who died Saturday night at 84.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told UPI that the movement is expressing its feeling of solidarity and grief for loosing the leader of Christians the world over.

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"In this respect we recall the Pope's statements that he always made, mainly when he called for giving the Palestinians their legitimate rights of freedom and independence," said Abu Zuhri.

He said that Hamas movement as well as the Palestinian people "are calling on the Pope's successor to keep the same position that opposes the occupation and its crimes against Moslems and Christians in Palestine."

Pope John Paul II had visited the Palestinian territories, mainly the city of Bethlehem, the believed birthplace of Jesus Christ. He visited a nearby refugee camp and called for the Palestinian refugees right of return.

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