Yasser Arafat may have become a Christian, claims RT Kendall

Then-President Yasser Arafat talks to the media two months before his death in 2004REUTERS/Loay Abu Haykel

The former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation may have become a Christian before his death ten years ago, it has been claimed.

In an interview with Premier Christianity magazine, author and pastor RT Kendall says he once watched 'The Passion of the Christ' with Yasser Arafat, who died on November 11, 2004.

The Palestinian leader apparently wept during the film and over a period of five visits with Kendall, asked to hear more about Jesus.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see him in heaven," Kendall said.

"I'll tell you why; I prayed with him five times, anointed him with oil. I gave him a [salvation] prayer. I'm not saying I know that he's saved; I'm saying I wouldn't be surprised."

Arafat caused much controversy during his leadership. Regarded as corrupt and a terrorist by critics and a freedom-fighting hero by his followers, he received the Nobel Preace Prize in 1994, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, for his role in the Oslo negotiations to end conflict between Israel and Palestine.

RT Kendall says he prayed with Arafat at least five times before he died.

US President George Bush described his death aged 75 as a "significant moment" in Palestinian history, while German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Arafat's life stood for "the varied and tragic history of the Palestinian people and the Middle East as a whole".

"In it were reflected many people's hopes for peace, but time and again also their disappointments and setbacks," he said.

The World Council of Churches said Arafat would be remembered "for bringing the Palestinian people together and for his unique and tenacious contribution to the cause of establishing their national home."

"We stand with the Churches of the Holy Land to honour his commitment to their place in the Palestinian society, its affairs and its future," a statement from the WCC continued.

"President Arafat often made sure to mention the church as well as the mosque as core institutions of Palestinian national life."

Parts of the interview with Kendall will be broadcast on Premier Christian Radio today, listen in here.