Suha Arafat, the widow of Yasser Arafat, said she tried to leave him “hundreds of times, but he wouldn’t let me.”
Arafat also told the Turkish newspaper Sabah that she would not have married the Palestinian leader had she known how difficult life with him would be.
“My life with him was hard. However, my life without him is even harder,” she said. “It is as if I am walking in a field covered with mines and I have no idea when one will go off. We were married for 22 years; however it felt like it was 50.
“If I had known what I would have to go through; I definitely would not have gotten married. I was with a great leader, but I was also all alone.”
Yasser Arafat died in November 2004. His body was recently exhumed from its crypt in Ramallah in the West Bank at the request of his wife to test his remains for traces of radioactive poisoning.
Suha, who was 33 years younger than her husband, with whom she eloped on her 27th birthday, converted from Christianity to Islam. She said she believed her marriage to Yasser Arafat was her “fate.”
Her mother was against it, Suha said. “Later I understood why. Had I known what I would endure, I clearly wouldn’t have married him … True, he was a great leader, but I was lonely.”
Since Yasser’s death, Suha has received dozens of marriage proposals, but rejected all of them. She now lives in Malta with her 17-year-old daughter Zahwa, on a Palestinian Authority pension of €10,000 ($13,371) a month.
Suha told the newspaper, “Everyone knows how he wouldn’t permit me to leave. Especially those in his servitude, they know very well what it was like.”
JTA content was used in this report.