Thousands of demonstrators across the Muslim world used Friday”s Islamic day of prayer to protest Israel’s attacks on Hizbullah, urging Sunni-Shiite unity to defeat the Jewish state.
Police clashed with anti-Israeli demonstrators in Egypt, Bahrain and Indian-run Kashmir.
In Cairo, thousands of protesters waving giant posters of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shiite group Hizbullah, gathered after Friday prayers at Al-Azhar Mosque, the most prominent Sunni Muslim institution in the Arab world. “Sunnis or Shiites (there is) no difference; all together to resist the enemy,” Sameh Ashour, head of the Arab Lawyers Union, told the crowd. “Resistance is the solution.”
During a fiery sermon at a Damascus mosque, one of Syria’s most prominent Sunni Islamic clerics assailed his Arab neighbors for condemning the kidnapping earlier this month of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah guerillas. “Our Arab people have been surprised by our Arab leaders who have ignored what is being said on the streets,” Sheik Salah Keftaro said.
Meanwhile in Iraq, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday predicted Israel would collapse like New York’s Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, if Sunnis and Shiites join in their fight.
Protesters in other cities also took to the streets including several thousand in Tripoli, Libya. About 2,000 angry demonstrators shouted praise for Hizbullah in downtown Amman, Jordan.
The situation in Iraq throws a wrench in the works of even a temporary reconciliation among Sunnis and Shi’ites for the sake of fighting against Israel; also, as described below, the debate over Hezbollah’s conduct is causing divisions among Arab populations,
and among their governments. Both of these factors work in favor of the interests of Israel and other Western nations, and that surely drives the folks at al-Azhar and elsewhere up the wall.
“No to the Arab silence on the Zionist crimes,” read one of the Jordanian banners.
In Manama, Bahrain, about 500 people demonstrated as close as they were allowed to the US Embassy, a frequent site of protests owing to US support of Israel. Witnesses said clashes developed when protesters threw stones at police photographers,
and the police retaliated with rubber bullets and tear gas.
About 2,000 Muslims also marched through the streets of the Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka.