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From Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, Muslims vent fury at Trump’s Jerusalem stance

© Fethi Belaid, AFP | A Tunisian protester burns a poster bearing images of the US and Israeli flags during a rally in Tunis on December 8.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-12-08

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the Muslim world on Friday, the Muslim holy day, expressing their outrage at US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump's declaration departed from decades of US policy and upended longstanding international assurances that the fate of Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claim as their capital, would be determined in peace negotiations.

The move drew stern criticism from governments across the Middle East and in other Muslim countries, where security was stepped up outside US embassies in anticipation of unrest following Friday prayers.

The expected protests turned violent in the Palestinian territories, where demonstrators staged a “day of rage” and clashed with Israeli security forces.

But the repercussions of Trump’s move were felt far and wide, with protesters from Malaysia to Somalia venting their anger at Washington and expressing their solidarity with the Palestinians.

>> 'Deplorable and unacceptable': Trump provokes diplomatic firestorm over Jerusalem

In the Egyptian capital of Cairo, a crowd of several hundred gathered at the famed al Azhar mosque and chanted, “Jerusalem is Arab! O Trump, you madman, the Arab people are everywhere!" Egypt is a US ally and has a peace treaty with Israel.

The imam leading the prayers at al Azhar said the US plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem was a “terrorist decision" that proved America’s bias towards Israel.

In Jordan, home to a large Palestinian population, hundreds rallied in the capital Amman chanting, “America is the head of the snake.”

The protesters raised posters showing Jordan's King Abdullah II and the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Islam's third-holiest site, whose religious guardian is the Jordanian king.

Iranians take to the streets after Trump's decision

There were larger protests in Tunisia and Lebanon, with more than 5,000 Lebanese and Palestinians marching from a mosque in western Beirut to a nearby cemetery where several Palestinian commanders are buried.

In Iran, which has never recognised Israel and supports anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah, demonstrators burned pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while chanting, "Death to the Devil."

Iranian media said similar rallies took place in other cities and towns across the country after Friday prayers.

‘Slap in the face for Muslims’

Protests were also reported in several Turkish cities, including a small gathering outside the heavily protected US embassy in Ankara, where police prevented protesters from setting US flags alight.

A much larger crowd, estimated at 3,000, gathered outside a mosque in Istanbul's conservative Fatih district before marching toward a park waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel and the US.

"What Trump says is empty words and means nothing to us,” said Merve, a young student in the crowd. “Whenever we see the name of Israel on a map, we cross it out and write Palestine," she added.

Protesters step on a poster of US President Donald Trump during a demonstration in Istanbul on December 8, 2017. © Ozan Kose, AFP

Radical Islamic groups in Pakistan organised rallies in Islamabad and other cities, with some protesters torching effigies of the US president. Protests took place in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan's largest, as well as Multan and Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province.

Islamist leaders addressed the crowds and urged Muslim countries to cut diplomatic ties with Washington to pressure Trump to reconsider his decision.

There was further unrest in neighbouring India, where protesters burned US and Israeli flags at rallies in restive Kashmir province.

Anti-American sentiment also ran high at a rally in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where a crowd of several hundred shouted, “Trump, down!”

More protests were reported in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, and in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, where more than 1,000 people rallied outside the US embassy.

"This insensitive action will inflame the hearts of Muslims worldwide," said Mohamad Rasul, a 51-year-old train driver in the Malaysian capital, describing Trump’s move as a “slap in the face for Muslims”.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Date created : 2017-12-08

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