A Tunisian astrologer who reportedly predicted the deaths of Princess Diana, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Yasser Arafat says President Bush will be killed by an assassin's bullet in 2005.
So seriously are Hassan al-Sharibi's predictions taken in the Arab world that a similar prophecy about Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Mahmoud Abbas has resulted in increased security around the candidate to replace Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas' aides put a "great deal of credence" in the prediction, according to a source quoted by the Jerusalem Post.
However, the paper tempered its report by saying critics label Sharibi "a quack with flair who relies on logic and wishful thinking. After all, predicting Yassin's assassination – he was Israel's 'public enemy No. 1' – and the death of an already ailing Arafat are hardly major feats."
Soothsaying is not unusual, nor forbidden, in Islam – as it is in Christianity and Judaism. Muslim caliphs relied on court astrologers as early as the eighth century, according to the report in the Jerusalem Post.
Sharibi also predicted the sudden death of Saddam Hussein before his trial begins.
"The Middle East region will be sitting on a volcano in 2005, and the situation in Iraq will get even more dramatic as Saddam Hussein is expected to die suddenly before his trial even starts," Sharibi said, according to a report by United Press International.