700,000 Moroccan Demonstrators Protest Mideast Violence
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of Rabat on Sunday, burning Israeli flags and denouncing the "war of extermination" against the Palestinians.
Observers told AFP that they estimated the number of protesters participating in the march, organized by a Moroccan pro-Palestinian association, at between half a million and 700,000.
Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi and other leading Moroccan religious and political figures took part in the demonstration, described by the local news agency MAP as a "gigantic sea of people".
The march, the biggest in Morocco since the Gulf War in 1991, continued for three hours, the crowds stretching the length of the capital's main thoroughfares.
One banner read: "Palestine for the Palestinians, Al Qods (Jerusalem) for the Muslims."
There were no reports of any violence or arrests during the march, which began at 12:30 pm (1030 GMT).
"This demonstration has shown clearly how angry the Moroccan people are and sends a message to leaders in the Arab and Islamic world," Khalid Soufiani, President of the Moroccan Association of Support for the Palestinian Struggle (AMSLP) told AFP.
"Arab leaders have to take decisions concerning the war of extermination started by Israel against the Palestinians and the holy sites of Islam and Christianity," he added.
Soufiani also called on Arab leaders to play the oil card in support of the Palestinians.
Mohammed Alami, a member of the Palestinian Authority in Morocco, said the demonstration was a "referendum on the support of the Moroccan people for the Palestinians."
Meanwhile, about 30 demonstrators were injured, three seriously, in Casablanca, Morocco's commercial hub, as police broke up an unauthorized anti-Israeli demonstration by thousands of protestors.
Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, some of whom retaliated by throwing stones, injuring two police in the clashes in the city's working-class Derb Soltane district.
Members of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party were seen at the demonstration, despite a communique issued by the party leadership on Saturday saying that its members would not go ahead with the demonstration after failing to obtain permission.
Clashes in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip have claimed 88 lives, including 75 Palestinians, 10 Arab Israelis and three Israelis.
The unrest was set off by a visit by right-wing Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the hotly disputed al-Aqsa mosque compound, a site known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City on September 28 -- RABAT, Morocco (AFP)
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