Moroccans, Indonesians, Belgians march for Lebanon


  • World
  • Sunday, 06 Aug 2006

By Zakia Abdennebi

CASABLANCA (Reuters) - A forest of Lebanese, Hizbollah and Palestinian flags filled Casablanca on Sunday as tens of thousands of Moroccans marched in protest at Israeli offensives in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. 

Marchers also took to the streets of Brussels, and had earlier demonstrated in cities across Indonesia, a day after similar protests in London. 

A Jordanian man covers his head with a Lebanese flag during a silent sit-in against Israeli air strikes on Lebanon and Gaza Strip outside the United Nations office in Amman August 6, 2006. (REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

In Casablanca, many held up photographs of Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as they filed through the kingdom's largest city, chanting their support for the guerrilla movement. 

"O dear Nasrallah, destroy Tel Aviv," they cried, as well as "Death to the United States". Some wore T-shirts of Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara. 

One group burnt Israeli and U.S. flags outside the town hall. 

Security sources put the number at the march at about 70,000. Organisers said up to one million people attended. 

Many of the banners and rallying cries accused Arab governments of a timid and tardy response to the war. 

Some demonstrators demanded Arab states help Lebanon fight back against Israeli attacks by donating arms or using their oil wealth as a diplomatic bargaining tool. 

"The Moroccan people came out to condemn this U.S.-Israeli plot," said Mustapha Motassim of the Citizen Alternative party. "We demand a new Middle East based on justice for everyone." 

Israel has killed at least 748 people in Lebanon and 89 Israelis have died in the conflict that began after Hizbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a raid on July 12. 

BRUSSELS, JAKARTA TOO 

In Brussels, several thousand people marched on Sunday against the war in Lebanon, demanding an immediate ceasefire. 

They carried Lebanese flags and placards, including one that said "Stop the massacre -- let us bury our dead". 

A woman in black trousers and sweater carried a large picture of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with the inscription: "Wanted dead or alive." 

A leader of the march, Khodor Berro, dismissed a draft U.N. resolution on ending the fighting as "an American-Israeli project". 

Protesters earlier demonstrated in cities across Indonesia against Israeli actions in Lebanon, but a key rally in Jakarta drew fewer participants than forecast. 

The leader of Indonesia's second-largest Muslim group, Muhammadiyah, had predicted a million-person march, but less than 2,000 appeared at the capital's main traffic circle to hear speeches condemning Israel and the United States. 

About 5,000 attended when the protest shifted to the U.S. embassy, among them Protestant, Catholic and Buddhist officials. 

Many people wore headbands calling Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. President George W. Bush terrorists. 

"Indonesia, Indonesia, get together. Israel, Israel, destroy it. America, America, terrorists," said Leo Sunkarisma, a Buddhist representative. 

In Yogyakarta on Java about 1,500 members of the Islamic-oriented Prosperous Justice Party also demonstrated on Sunday, according to local media. 

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Protests were also reported in Surabaya, the second most populous city after Jakarta, and Medan, its third largest. 

(Additional reporting by David Lawsky in Brussels and Telly Nathalia in Jakarta) 

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