Worldwide protests against Israeli attacks on Gaza

January 11th, 2009 - 2:54 am ICT by IANS  

Berlin, Jan 11 (DPA) Tens of thousands took part Saturday in worldwide protests against Israel’s 15-day bombardment and infantry deployment into the Gaza Strip.In Germany, more than 35,000 people took to the streets in demonstrations organised mainly by ethnic Turks, Palestinians and other predominantly Islamic minorities.

The biggest demonstration in Germany was in the western industrial city of Duisburg, where 10,000 demonstrators attended a rally organised by the Milli Gorus Islamic community, a Turkish Islamist group.

Thousands attended other Turkish-organised demonstrations in the cities of Mainz, Hanover and Freiburg.

“We wanted to show our solidarity with the people on the ground,” said a spokesman in Duisburg for Milli Gorus, which demands that Israel call off the offensive and end its long-term blockade of the Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas.

Milli Gorus, which says it has 60,000 members in Germany, is monitored by several of Germany’s 16 states on the grounds that its Islamist objectives may be anti-democratic.

In the capital, Berlin, a crowd of 8,500, mostly Palestinians, demonstrated against the Israeli operation in a follow-up to a rally a week ago by 7,000. Many held aloft photographs of injured children. A woman at the front carried a doll wrapped in “blood-stained” rags.

Palestinian immigrants also demonstrated by the thousands in the southern cities of Nuremberg and Munich.

Germany’s government has been broadly sympathetic towards Israel, suggesting the cause of the offensive is the missile bombardment by Hamas on Israel and demanding that Hamas call this off.

In Paris, tens of thousands gathered, with the organisers claiming 100,000 people at a demonstration organised by the “Collective for a just and lasting peace between Israeli’s and Palestinians”, and alliance of lobby groups, trade unions and left-wing parties.

There were protest marches in other French cities and towns.

In London, more than 10,000 people took part in a demonstration, where some protestors threw shoes at police, burned placards and tried to break through barriers.

Police said 12,000 people took part in the march from Hyde Park to the Israeli embassy, while media reports spoke of tens of thousands.

Protests also took place in Belfast, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Newcastle.

Jewish organisations plan to hold peace demonstrations in London Sunday.

London’s former mayor Ken Livingstone, musician Brian Eno and singer Annie Lennox were among those who supported the protest Saturday.

Livingstone said the British government and the European Union (EU) should push Israel to “stop the carnage”.

Shoe-throwing as a form of protest has gained popularity since an Iraqi journalist made headlines for throwing his shoes at US President George W. Bush in mid-December.

Thousands of people, many waving Palestinian flags, held marches and rallies in the Italian cities of Milan, Turin and Florence.

Scuffles broke out when some demonstrators set fire to an Israeli flag while others attempted to stop them during an afternoon march in downtown Milan, news reports said.

Also in Milan, several hundred Muslims knelt in prayer near the city’s main railway station.

A spokesman for a group representing Palestinians living in Italy said over a loudspeaker the gesture was meant to signify a “desire for peace”.

Similar marches took place in Turin and in Florence, where demonstrators gathered near the city’s famous Duomo Roman Catholic cathedral.

Saturday’s protests were organised by left-wing unions and political parties as well as peace activists and religious groups.

The US consulate in Auckland was also the target for protestors hurling shoes. About 500 protestors burned an Israeli flag in what the organiser claimed was New Zealand’s largest pro-Palestinian demonstration.

Some protestors wore Palestinian flags, and held placards of dead and mutilated children as they marched through the city centre chanting, “How many kids have you killed today, Israel, USA?” Radio New Zealand reported.

In the Norwegian capital Oslo, police decided not to allow protesters to approach the Israeli embassy in an attempt to avert a possible repetition of violent scenes Thursday, when police were forced to use teargas and arrested some 30 protesters.

At least one member of the militant autonomous group Blitz was arrested Saturday. The group had called for supporters to flout the ban against approaching the embassy.

In neighbouring Sweden, several thousand people took part in a protest in central Stockholm.

In Greece, around 4,000 people gathered in front of the US and Israeli embassies, shouting anti-US and anti-Israeli slogans. Some protestors threw stones at police. No further incidents were reported.

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