Protesters Call for Death to Israel, America
Protesters in several Islamic nations called for death to Israel, America and their allies Friday — and some of the demonstrations turned violent.
Scores of pro-Palestinian demonstrators took to the streets in Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Lebanon to take a stand against the Israeli military's action in Palestinian territories. Those in Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan turned ugly.
The demonstrators were protesting out of fury at the latest Israeli offensive launched against their territories and what they consider the pro-Israeli position of the United States.
In Manama, Bahrain, about 7,000 demonstrators crowded outside the U.S. Embassy. Some hurled rocks into the compound, setting fire to an embassy satellite dish and a sentry box. The mass of protesters burned an American flag, chanting "Death to America! Death to Israel!" while Bahraini police fired tear gas and erected a barricade of steel fencing and barbed wire.
At Egypt's top Islamic institute, the Cairo-based Al-Azhar Mosque, some 2,000 protesters called for Arab military intervention, chanting: "One, two, where is the Arab army?"
The sermon speaker, university president Ahmed Omar Hashem, called on Arabs to support the Palestinians by all means, including taking up arms. Bands of riot police blocked the mosque's exit, making sure demonstrators did not hit the streets.
But later, people who left the mosque reassembled to revive the demonstration. Police officers charged with batons, kicking some protesters and chasing others down side streets.
One demonstrator was bleeding from the mouth.
Protesters also rallied in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria. And in Jordan, riot police used batons against about 4,000 demonstrators who converged on the Israeli embassy in Amman. Police stopped protesters from reaching the embassy, but some in the crowd vandalized cars and telephone booths.
Some 2,000 protesters also attacked about 50 riot police with shoes and stones following prayers at Amman's al-Husseini mosque. Police reinforcements used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Also on Friday, Iran became the second OPEC country to call for an oil embargo against Israel's allies.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Muslim oil-producing states should halt supplies to countries supporting Israel.
"I suggest, only for one month, as a symbolic gesture, that Arab and Islamic countries switch off oil to all countries who have close relations with Israel," Khamenei said in a Friday prayer sermon at Tehran University.
Khamenei did not elaborate on which countries should be targeted or whether Iran would take such action unilaterally. During a visit to Moscow, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi suggested his government would support Khamenei's suggestions.
"If other Islamic countries join in this call, it will be a very strong instrument against America and Israel," Kharrazi said.
Three days ago, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri proposed that Arab countries use oil to pressure the United States into forcing Israel to end its military offensive in the West Bank.
Friday's Bahraini demonstration was one of the largest political gatherings in the small island state in years.
Witnesses reported that hundreds of police officers sparred with the protesters, using rubber bullets as well as tear gas to try to keep them out of the burning compound.
But the demonstrators were too numerous, and some managed to get in — throwing petrol bombs at and smashing windows in the compound's main building. Others shattered window panes of a nearby McDonald's fast food restaurant.
Nearly 100 people went to the hospital for minor injuries, according to witnesses and doctors.
It was the second time in recent days that Bahrain found itself at the center of turmoil.
Earlier this week, the U.S. ambassador there asked a school gathering to observe a minute of silence for Israelis killed by Palestinians after a student requested a tribute to Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks.
After the incident, one of the major Bahraini newspapers called for an apology, saying the American diplomat had insulted its people.
In the southern port of Aqaba, King Abdullah II attended prayers for the "souls of the martyrs" — the Palestinians killed during 18 months of fighting with Israel.
Abdullah then addressed a telethon for wounded Palestinians that he initiated.
"I tell them (Palestinians) that their steadfastness and their heroism is a source of pride to the whole Arab nation," Abdullah said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.