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Worldwide protests in solidarity with Lebanese

Published Aug 15, 2006 11:33 PM

The international protests of U.S.-Israeli aggression came in two waves, one across mostly Muslim countries in Asia and Africa on Aug. 11, and then another on Aug. 12 and 13 in South America, Europe and North America. The Lebanese and other Arab Diasporas provided the core of the demonstrations in many countries, along with anti-imperialist groups and Muslims outraged by George Bush’s slanders about “Islamo-fascists.”

Photo: Said Samir

The demonstrations, just as those a week ago, showed growing support for the Lebanese resistance movement and specifically for Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and also were directed as much against U.S. symbols as against Israel.

In Africa there were significant protests in Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, in Noukachott in Mauritania and in Durban, South Africa, where the South African Human Rights Organization held a march of over 1,500 to the U.S. Consul General, and in Mogadishu in Somalia.

Tens of thousands of students in Klang Valley, Penang, Bangi and Johor Baharu in Malaysia protested on their campuses after Friday prayers against the Israeli killing of Lebanese civilians. In Kuala Lum pur, the capital, various groups launched a boycott of Coca-Cola drinks and Starbucks coffee to protest the U.S. role in Israel’s military offensive in Lebanon and Gaza.

There were also protests Aug. 11 in Lucknow, India, demanding the government raise its voice against the Israeli attacks, and also in Damascus, Syria; Kara chi, Pakistan; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. In Istanbul, Turkey, the left organizations played a greater role in the protest. There was also a protest for the first time on this issue in Azerbaijan.

Perhaps the most important protests in the Arab world took place in Egypt, where they had a strong character of opposition to the Egyptian government, considered a client of the U.S. in the region.

After the Friday prayer in many regions of Egypt there were spontaneous clashes between demonstrators and the police. At the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, police pushed hundreds of demonstrators into the inner court and surrounded the building. The angry crowd burned an Israeli flag and chanted, “Whether Sunni or Shiite, we are all Islamic resistance fighters.” They also denounced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, saying “Mubarak will fall.”

There were similar protests in Damanhour, Damietta and Minya, other Egyptian cities.

There were also protests in Toronto, Ont., and other cities in Canada on Aug. 12. Another protest is set for Aug. 15 in Montreal, when former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell is scheduled to address the Jewish National Fund, a group that has land holdings in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Demonstrations were scheduled in Uru guay, Mexico and various cities in Brazil. In Asunción, Paraguay, activists from about a dozen social and political organizations demanded that there be a break in the negotiations of a free trade agreement between Mercosur—a trading body grouping South American countries—and Israel.

Some thousands demonstrated in Paris and other French cities, in Vienna in Austria, in Geneva in Switzerland, on Aug. 12, and in Madrid and other cities in the Spanish state on Aug. 13. In England, Scotland and Ireland, where there had been a mass demonstration on Aug. 5, there were smaller actions in London, Edinburgh and Dublin.

Probably the most significant of the European demonstrations took place in Berlin, Germany, where the traditional peace movement has in the past refused to come out in force to oppose Israeli policies. The post-World War II German ruling class has instrumentalized the left’s revulsion of anti-Semitism to disarm it before imperialism and Zionism.

This manipulation, combined with heavy right-wing, anti-Muslim propaganda in the ruling-class media, has made it difficult to mobilize. The local Berlin regional government even passed a law making it illegal to carry a Hezbollah flag or a picture of Nasrallah on a protest.

Nevertheless, some 15,000 people, about a third of them from the traditional movement, marched in Berlin. One of the talks was given by Fanny-Michaela Reisin of European Jews for a Just Peace. Here are a few excerpts from her speech:

“The rulers in Israel are misusing not only my name. They have the audacity to call upon the names of my murdered ancestors. Without shame they try to justify their evil deeds in Lebanon and Palestine by doing them in the name of my grandparents, who were murdered in the concentration camps and mass graves of the Nazi regime.

“The dead cannot defend themselves. But I, born and raised in the shadow of their murders, tell the rulers starting from Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert, Secretary of Defense Peretz and above all Com mander in Chief [Dan] Halutz, that I deny them the right to call upon the memory of those innocently killed to justify their program of raw power and destruction.”

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