Pro-Saddam, Anti-U.S. Protests From Israel to Moscow
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Sitting on carpets donated by Saudi Arabia, about 10,000 Palestinian Moslems on Friday urged on a mosque preacher railing against the Saudis and Americans for confronting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Moslems and Arabs in Moscow, Bangladesh, Amsterdam, and Malaysia also protested the U.S. military deployment in the Persian Gulf region, and most expressed support for Saddam’s takover of Kuwait.
In Moscow, about 100 Arabs waving Iraqi flags and color posters of Saddam marched past the U.S. Embassy at midday and shouted anti-American slogans for about 30 minutes. They dispersed after a U.S. Embassy official agreed to speak briefly to a representative.
″Down with America and also Bush,″ said Sami Kamil, a doctor from Libya. ″It’s our land, Arab land. We must control it. No Americans, no one from outside .. We don’t want anybody there.″
The protest was organized by Arab students, said Ahmed Jassam, a physics student at Moscow University. He said the crowd included citizens of 10 countries.
A larger protest occurred Friday in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where hundreds of 400 Moslems demanded the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia. Unlike protesters in the other countries, they also demanded the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, which has been occupied since Aug. 2.
More than 200 members of the fundamentalist Khelafat Andolan, or Caliphs’ Revolution, marched from the Baitul Mukarram Mosque to the nearby National Press Club. ″Iraq get out of Kuwait 3/8″ they chanted. ″Down with American imperialism 3/8 Americans get out of the holy land of Saudi Arabia 3/8″
Nearly 200 youths converged on the press club at the same time. Their speakers said the world should pressure Saddam and President Bush to resolve the gulf crisis through negotiations.
The biggest show of support for the Iraqi leader was in Jerusalem, where thousands of Palestinian Moslems cried ″Amen 3/8″ as Mohammed al-Kafrawi, chief preacher of the Al Aqsa mosque, praised Saddam and referred to Americans and Europeans as ″new crusaders″ making war on the Arab nation.
″God, make the desert a mass grave for the Americans,″ al-Kafrawi said.
Al Aqsa and the adjacent Dome of the Rock are regarded as the third holiest sites in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Their importance is evinced by the Saudi-donated carpets with the country’s symbol of crossed swords and a palm tree.
Friday noon prayers at Al Aqsa are the most important of the week for Moslems, and the enthusiastic response to al-Kafrawi’s sermon signaled the Palestinians’ anger at Saudi Arabia for inviting the Americans into the country to defend against Iraqi agression.
Referring to Saddam, the mosque preacher said ″Leader of Iraq ... for the dignity of Islam, persist in your struggle to get rid of the American intervention and the forces of treason.″
Islamic fundamentalists and Palestinian activists also distributed anti- Saudi and anti-American leaflets to the crowd.
Several dozen ethnic Arabs demonstrated outside the U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam on Friday to protest U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf. No incidents were reported.
Shouting ″Down with America 3/8″ and ″Bush out of the gulf 3/8″ the protesters carried banners that read ″America out of the Middle East″ and ″No War in the Gulf.″
There are about 400,000 Moslems in the Netherlands. Most have origins in Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, protesters burned an American flag and carried anti-American banners in front of the U.S. Embassy in a demonstration against the military deployment in Saudi Arabia.
About 1,500 members and supporters of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party participated in the peaceful 90-minute protest. They carried banners and placards which among other things read ″Go to hell America.″