Street Protests Sweep Muslim Countries over US-British Strikes

Published October 8th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Street demonstrations over the US-British strikes on Afghanistan swept several Islamic countries on Monday as crowds protested at the attack on a fellow Muslim country. 

Two people were shot dead and at least 200 people injured in clashes in the self-rule Gaza Strip between Islamist students and Palestinian police, hospital sources said. 

Half of the wounded were police, the sources said. 

Two young Palestinians, aged 13 and 21, died as masked men shot at police in the clashes that erupted in Gaza City after police tried to disperse anti-American student demonstrations at the Islamic university, police said. 

In Egypt -- the closest ally of the United States in the Arab world -- around 10,000 students demonstrated at universities around the country, with some protesters calling for jihad or Muslim holy war. 

The largest was in Cairo where 4,000 protested at the Islamic university of Al-Azhar, while 3,000 rallied at Alexandria university, and a further 2,500 at Zagazig university to the north -- although no trouble was reported. 

In Jordan, the authorities clamped down on potential demonstrations, arresting at least 10 Islamic students overnight to prevent protests at the military strikes. 

Protests are often held at the University of Jordan, and students from there were rounded up during raids on their homes. 

No demonstrations either in Lebanon, unlike what happened in the wake of the explosions of joy in some Palestinian refugee camps there after the September 11 terror attacks in the United States. 

Nearer to the scene of the US retaliation, Muscat students held a march, with Oman conscious of possible sensitivity over its ongoing joint military exercises involving 23,000 British troops. 

While even closer to the scene of the overnight strikes, there were violent anti-US protests throughout neighboring Pakistan, with the army forced to deploy on the streets and resort to tear-gas in efforts to quell the riots. 

In the largest demonstrations, between 10,000 and 15,000 radical students and members of hard-line Islamic groups rioted in the western city of Quetta, burning down a police station, a UN building, three cinemas, a police station, shopping plaza and a fire station. 

Chanting "Down with America" and "Death to (US) President (George) Bush," the crowds smashed the windscreens of parked cars and threw stones at police. 

One person died and eight were injured in the Quetta clashes, while police also had to fire tear-gas in the northwestern city of Peshawar as they tried to disperse 1,500 slogan-shouting protestors. 

And across Pakistan's eastern border in India's Muslim-majority Kashmir state, 20 were injured after police also used tear-gas to break up violent anti-US protests. 

At one protest, police fired shots over the heads of demonstrators, while at another, protesters set fire to tires to barricade the police who then fired tear-gas to disperse the crowds. 

Tear-gas was also used to break up a protest at the Kashmir University campus that included women. 

In Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, a demonstration of 300 was held outside the US embassy with a sinister tone as the protestors shouted "Kill [US ambassador Robert] Gelbard and "Burn the embassy." 

The country's authorities braced for trouble, deploying water cannon, armored vehicles, and hundreds of armed police to guard diplomats and other foreigners. 

There was another smaller demonstration outside the US embassy by the Islamic Youth Movement, marked by calls for jihad. 

There were also demonstrations in Europe -- in Greece and France. 

Nearly 2,000 people belonging to left-wing parties and organizations protested in two separate demonstrations against "the American war in Afghanistan" in the center of Athens. 

Nearly 1,000 supports of the Greek Communist Party gathered in a central square and shouted slogans such as "Bush is the number one terrorist" and "Americans, murderers of peoples." 

And in France, demonstrations were held in Paris and Strasbourg, but they were much smaller -- around 200 in the capital, and between 120 and 150 in the eastern French city. 

The Paris demonstration near the US embassy was contained by the police. Slogans such as "Dollar murderer" and "Bush murderer" were chanted, but the tone was less harsh -- "justice, not war" and "No Talibush” -- CAIRO (AFP)

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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