What happened on Tuesday In Ramallah -- often referred to as the bastion of Palestinian secularism and moderation -- serves as a reminder that radical Islam has found its way to this West Bank city.
Hundreds of Muslim fundamentalists marched through the streets Tuesday to mark the 92nd anniversary of the fall of the Caliphate.
The Palestinian Authority, which had in the past cracked down on Hizb-ut-Tahrir [Party of Liberation], the radical organization that led the march, instructed its security forces not to intervene, even as spokesmen of Hizb-ut-Tahrir condemned US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to revive peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir is a radical, Islamist political organization that calls on all Muslims to unify under an Islamic state ruled by Islamic law, Sharia, and a Caliph. The march in Ramallah was organized by members of its Palestinian branch, who, along with their fundamentalist followers, lamented the long-ago decision by the Grand National Assembly in Angora, Turkey, to depose Caliph Abdul Medjid Effendi and abolish the Caliphate.
Palestinian residents of Ramallah expressed surprise at the Palestinian Authority's decision to allow hundreds of Muslim fundamentalists to march in their city in scenes that appear to be taken from the streets of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
"Since when does the Palestinian Authority allow Al-Qaeda supporters to stage demonstrations in our cities?" asked a Palestinian shopkeeper.
Remarked another Palestinian university student who witnessed the event: "Today I felt as if I'm in Syria or Gaza. It's strange that the Palestinian Authority, which arrests people who post critical comments on Facebook, allows Muslim extremists to march in Ramallah, calling for the establishment of a Caliphate."
Chanting slogans in favor of the restoration of the Caliphate, the Muslim fundamentalists called on Islamic armies to "march toward Palestine to liberate the Aqsa Mosque and the rest of Palestine."
The fundamentalists also shouted slogans in support of the jihadi terrorists engaged in the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
Baher Saleh, a senior Hizb-ut-Tahrir official, told the crowd that it was time for Muslim armies to "liberate the Aqsa Mosque from the hands of the filthy Jews."
Saleh and other members of the organization also condemned the Palestinian Authority leadership for failing to endorse their ideology and mobilize the Islamic world for war against Israel.
Palestinian Authority officials have not offered an explanation as to why Hizb-ut-Tahrir, whose members are frequently targeted by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, was given permission to hold a rally in favor of jihad [holy war] against Israel.
Some Palestinians, however, said that the decision to allow the fundamentalists to hold a rally in Ramallah was aimed at sending a message to Kerry about the challenges and threats facing the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority leadership, according to this theory, is using the Muslim radicals to scare Western donors into continuing, or perhaps increasing, their financial aid to the Palestinian government in the West Bank.
But at the same time the Palestinian Authority is also shooting itself in the foot. Hizb-ut-Tahrir is an organization that openly despises the Palestinian Authority leaders, dubbing them traitors and collaborators with the enemies of Islam.