worldwide Muslims protest against US Jerusalem ‘slap in the face’

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Alongside Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, thousands of supporters worldwide marched after Friday prayers in angry protest at the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Largely non-violent protests were held in Muslim-majority countries around the world, including Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Egypt, with many demonstrators setting fire to Israeli and US flags as well as pictures of Trump.

In Istanbul, thousands marched chanting slogans including “Jerusalem is ours and will remain so!” and “down with America, down with Israel”, the protesters marched after prayers at the Ottoman Fatih mosque in the center of Istanbul, the correspondent added.

Other protests were planned elsewhere in Istanbul and across Turkey.

“We consider Jerusalem as the bastion of the Muslim community … We are here to show our unity and our strength. Nobody can deter us,” said protester Doguhan, 17.

Merve, a student, said she and her colleagues had left their classes to attend the protest, describing the US decision as “null and void”.

AP Photo/Heri Juanda

Muslim men burn Israeli and U.S. flags during a protest against the U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. AP Photo/Heri Juanda

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

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken a strong line against the move and called an emergency summit meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on December 13 in Istanbul.

Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.

The two sides have since stepped up cooperation, particularly in energy, but Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, is still often bitterly critical of Israeli policy.

Meanwhile, in Muslim-majority Malaysia, thousands more protesters demonstrated outside its US embassy over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, denouncing the decision as a “slap in the face” for Muslims worldwide.

Some 5,000 demonstrators marched on the Kuala Lumpur mission after the main weekly Muslim prayers in a nearby mosque, chanting and waving banners that read “Hands off Jerusalem” and “Down USA President Trump.”

The status of Jerusalem is deeply sensitive for Muslims, and protesters have started taking to the streets in cities across the world following the policy shift.

The protesters were led by Khairy Jamaluddin, the sports minister and head of ruling party UMNO’s youth wing, who accused of Trump of having made “an illegal announcement”.

“What you did is against international law — Muslims cannot accept your action,” he said in a speech to the crowd during the hour-long protest.

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Malaysian Muslims protest against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Kuala Lumpur on December 8, 2017 – (AFP)

Mohamad Rasul, a 51-year-old train driver taking part in the demonstration, described Trump’s move as “a slap in the face for Muslims.

“This insensitive action will inflame the hearts of Muslims worldwide.”

Police said 5,000 demonstrators took part. The protest was peaceful bar some pushing between protesters and security officials.

In neighboring Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, several hundred people demonstrated outside the US embassy in the capital Jakarta, carrying placards that said “No to Trump” and unfurling a large Palestinian flag.

Hundreds of protesters also demonstrated in cities across Pakistan, including in the capital Islamabad. The protesters chanted “Death to Trump”, “Trump is mad”, and “Death to US” while burning American and Israeli flags as well as effigies of the US president.

Hundreds of protesters also marched in Kabul, the capital of neighboring Pakistan

Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan are staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause and solidarity protests are not uncommon.

Israel was deploying hundreds of additional police officers Friday after Palestinian calls for protests following the main weekly Muslim prayers.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital puts him at odds with the international community, which insists the issue can only be resolved in negotiations.

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