Large Protests Against Fallujah Campaign, Mosque Killing
US Hated From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli
In Baghdad itself, AP’s Hamza Hendawi writes, tensions rose to a fever pitch over the US assault on Fallujah, the marine mosque shooting filmed by Kevin Sites (on which he has now commented), and the Friday raid on the Abu Hanifa mosque, where between 2 and 4 worshippers were killed and 9 wounded by Iraqi national guards backed by US troops in seach of armaments and bomb-making equipment. It is not clear why the raid had to be conducted while worship ceremonies were ongoing. Abu Hanifa is one of four revered founders of the major Sunni schools of Islamic legal interpretation.
Hendawi writes that as a result, on Saturday heavy fighting broke out between guerrilas in Azamiyah and the US and Iraqi troops, in which guerrillas deployed mortars, rpg’s, and roadside bombs, leaving several stores ablaze. He adds: “Almost simultaneously, clashes broke out in at least five other Baghdad neighborhoods. In all, at least 10 people, including one American soldier, were killed throughout the capital Saturday.”
Asharq al-Awsat writes that the Najaf spokesman of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani denounced the US on Sunday for the Abu Hanifa raid. He said, “It is unacceptable. We condemn all desecrations of holy sites.” He also condemned all arbitrary arrests, including of aides of Muqtada al-Sadr, saying that the rule of law had to be upheld.
World revulsion against the US attack on Fallujah reached a crescendo during the past five days, with significant street protests breaking out in the Middle East and Latin America. Turkey, Palestine and Libya in the region, and Chile in the New World saw thousands of angry protesters come out against the US.
The brutal way the US conducted the assault, and the continual aerial bombardment of civilian neighborhoods in the weeks leading up to the attack, suggested to many observers that the operation was intended as a form of collective punishment against the people of Fallujah, and a warning to the residents of other Iraqi cities not to let the guerrillas operate freely in their urban areas. Collective punishment is forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 governing militarily occupied territories.
Thousands of Palestinians protested the US war in Iraq Sunday. AP says, “Some burned the effigy of a U.S. Marine and American and British flags. About two thousand people gathered outside a mosque in Nablus, waving placards calling Iraq “a Christian war against Muslims.” A senior Islamic cleric says it reminds him of the Crusades. In a Gaza refugee camp, some 4500 people chanted “no to occupation in Palestine, no to occupation in Iraq.” Many were waving green Hamas banners. A local Hamas leader says American forces are committing “savage crimes” in Iraq.”
Az-Zaman reports that Egyptian Council on Foreign Affairs condemned the Fallujah campaign and asked that the international community put pressure on the US to observe international law in that city.
Thousands of Libyans protested the US war in Iraq on Saturday. Since Libya is a police state, such a protest indicates that Qadhafi decided to allow it. (Government lack of permission for protests is the only thing that keeps the crowds from exploding into the streets of Amman and Cairo, as well).
Some 5,000 Turks demonstrated against the US in southeastern Turkey on Sunday. This rally follows a march by members of the Teachers’ Union in Ankara last Wednesday. The Fallujah campaign was openly denounced late last week by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as involving “unacceptable violations of international norms.”
In the Pakistani port city of Karachi, protesters rallied after the Friday prayer sermon of clerics loyal to the fundamentalist coalition, MMA or the United Action Council.
Meanwhile, about 30,000 Chileans came out on Sunday to protest the Fallujah campaign and US presence in Iraq, as Bush prepared to visit Santiago. Bush was boycotted by 200 Chilean parliamentarians because they refused to pass through US metal detectors in order to meet with him.
Last Wednesday, some 13,000 Greeks had marched against the military actions of the US in Iraq.