Muslims rally against Israel, US

Thousands march in ME capitals to protest Gaza offensive.

beit hanun funeral 298.8 (photo credit: AP)
beit hanun funeral 298.8
(photo credit: AP)
Thousands marched though Middle East capitals on Friday to protest an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, their calls often spilling into a broader outcry against America's policy in the region and its backing of Israel. In Jordan, some 1,000 demonstrators filed into the streets after Muslim noon prayers, chanting slogans in support of the Palestinians, but also against the sentencing of Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq. In Sudan, about 2,000 people gathered in front of the United Nations mission building and burnt American and Israeli flags. "Down USA, we won't be governed by the CIA," chanted the crowd, which was prevented by police from approaching the UN building. Some 500 boy scouts from an organization affiliated to Hizbullah also gathered in front of a UN office in central Beirut, waving a banner in English that read: "West(ern) Democracy + Arab Silence Massacre of Palestinian Children." Palestinians marching though the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus challenged Arab governments for not doing enough, and praised terrorists who attack Israel. "Arab leaders sitting on your chairs, a suicide bomber makes us proud," some 700 protesters chanted. In Cairo, 3,000 worshippers gathered at the call of the Muslim Brotherhood in Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni Muslim world's most prestigious theological institute. "One generation after another, we'll keep on saying it: we don't recognize Israel," chanted the worshippers during their one-hour protest. Another Brotherhood demonstration in the northern port city of Alexandria drew some 2,000 people. Separately, thousands of Islamist students have been protesting in Egyptian universities, condemning the Israeli attack in the Gaza town of Beit Hanun that killed 19 civilians on Wednesday. Jordanian organizers said authorities had allowed them to protest on the Palestinian issue, but that they had felt compelled to broaden their calls. "The protest did not change course, it reflected the anger of the Arabs against all those practices, whether against Saddam, Hamas or the Palestinian people," said Wael al-Saqa, an Islamist activist and the head of the engineers association. "Saddam the detainee, we are with you until your liberation," shouted some protesters, waving flags of the pan-Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party Saddam belongs to. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon also held a rally supporting Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and other radical groups in Ein el-Hiweh, Lebanon's largest camp on the outskirts of the southern port city of Sidon. Arab League foreign ministers have planned an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss how to respond to the latest violence in Gaza, while Arab states at the UN were lobbying for a Security Council resolution condemning the offensive.