Police clashed with anti-Israeli demonstrators in Egypt, Bahrain and Indian-run Kashmir.
In Cairo, thousands of protesters waving giant posters of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shiite group Hizbullah, gathered after Friday prayers at Al-Azhar Mosque, the most prominent Sunni Muslim institution in the Arab world. “Sunnis or Shiites (there is) no difference; all together to resist the enemy,” Sameh Ashour, head of the Arab Lawyers Union, told the crowd. “Resistance is the solution.”
'We'll defeat Israel without use of weapons'
The fighting between Israel and Hizbullah has exposed divisions across the Muslim world as leaders in some predominantly Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have criticized Hizbullah’s actions. But many ordinary people and religious leaders - both Sunnis and Shiites - have given their support to Hizbullah because of its willingness to fight Israel.
During a fiery sermon at a Damascus mosque, one of Syria’s most prominent Sunni Islamic clerics assailed his Arab neighbors for condemning the kidnapping earlier this month of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah guerillas. “Our Arab people have been surprised by our Arab leaders who have ignored what is being said on the streets,” Sheik Salah Keftaro said.
Meanwhile in Iraq, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday predicted Israel would collapse like New York’s Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, if Sunnis and Shiites join in their fight.
'No to Arab silence on Zionist crimes'
“I will continue defending my Shiite and Sunni brothers, and I tell them that if we unite, we will defeat Israel without the use of weapons,” Sadr said during a speech in the southern city Iraqi city of Kufa.
Under the watchful eye of security police, protesters in Cairo shouted both anti-Israel slogans and condemned Arab leaders’ reluctance to show their support for Hizbullah.
Thousands of police surrounded the protesters in Cairo, beating back some with batons when they tried to move into the streets. Police said three protesters were injured when they clashed with authorities.
Protesters in other cities also took to the streets including several thousand in Tripoli, Libya. About 2,000 angry demonstrators shouted praise for Hizbullah in downtown Amman, Jordan.
“No to the Arab silence on the Zionist crimes,” read one of the Jordanian banners.
In Manama, Bahrain, about 500 people demonstrated as close as they were allowed to the US Embassy, a frequent site of protests owing to US support of Israel. Witnesses said clashes developed when protesters threw stones at police photographers, and the police retaliated with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Mohammed Bin Daina said one woman was treated for tear gas inhalation, and one policeman was lightly wounded.
Bin Daina denied that police fired rubber bullets, saying they used only tear gas. Nobody was arrested. Police used batons and smoke grenades to break up hundreds of protesters who had blocked traffic in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Demonstrators in Pakistan burned Israeli and US flags, and protesters in Indonesia and Malaysia accused the Jewish state of terrorism.
About 2,000 Muslims also marched through the streets of the Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka.