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04 June 2010

Anti-Israel protest: 10,000-strong crowd gathered near US Embassy


COMMON GROUND: Protesters trying to penetrate the FRU personnel barrier while traffic on the next road is at a standstill

KUALA LUMPUR: Furore over Israel's attack over the Gaza-bound aid flotilla last Monday has not simmered, with a 10,000 strong crowd gathering in front of the US Embassy in protest today.

The protest, organised by Pakatan Rakyat and 30 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), originated at several mosques in the city after Friday prayers before the crowd proceeded towards the US Embassy, located in Jalan Tun Razak.

The protest, which saw the crowd burning the Israeli flag and a poster of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had caused a massive traffic jam along the neighbouring Jalan Ampang from about 2pm.

Some 250 police personnel were deployed from the Cheras police headquarters and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU). A police helocopter was also seen hovering above, circling the area.

Pakatan de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who led a team of Opposition leaders including Gombak MP Azmin Ali, Nasaruddin Mat Isa and PKR deputy president Syed Hussin Ali, succeeded in entering the embassy to deliver a letter signed by Pakatan leaders as well as the NGOs.

The letter calls on US President Barack Obama to condemn the violence against the flotilla aid attack and for Israel to end the siege on Gaza.

"We are appalled and deeply disappointed by your weak and inadequate response on the matter," the letter read.
At one point, the crowd attempted to storm through the FRU barricade. However, no injuries were reported among any members of the crowd or the FRU personnel.

The crowd also carried banners proclaiming their support for the Palestinian struggle.

Below is the timeline as provided by The Malay Mail reporter, Aizat Sharif, who was at the US Embassy to cover the protest:

2pm - The crowd that had gathered at the Kampung Baru mosque have proceeded towards the US Embassy at Jalan Tun Razak. However, there were several police personnel still present at the mosque to monitor and control the crowd. No reports received on rowdy behaviour from the crowd.

2.30pm - Crowd began gathering at Jalan Tun Razak following the completing of Friday prayers. The crowd gathered at the US Embassy has caused a traffic crawl some 3km along Jalan Ampang, in front of Lembaga Tabung Haji to the Kampung Pandan roundabout.

3.10pm - Opposition leaders Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, PKR Gombak MP Azmin Ali, Pas secretary-general Nasaruddin Mat Isa and PKR deputy president Syed Hussin Ali entered the embassy compound to deliver a letter to the embassy representative. They were inside the embassy for about 25 minutes.

3.15pm - The crowd burnt the Israel flag and carried several banners proclaiming their support for the Palestinian struggle. The crowd attempted to storm the FRU barricade but no arrests were made, and neither were there any injuries among members of the crowd or the FRU personnel.

3.30pm - Cheras district acting police chief Supt Abd Rahim Hamzah Othman said about 10,000 people had gathered for the protest in front of the US Embassy. Meanwhile, 250 police personnel from the Cheras police headquarters, including several officers from the Traffic Police Unit and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) were deployed to the scene. A police helicopter could be seen circling above the area.

3.50pm - The protest began to mellow down and the crowd began to disperse.

A smaller protest was also held this afternoon the National Mosque in which some 150 protestors from several NGOs had gathered.

The protests came several hours after about 700 supporters from Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA), Aman Palestine, Persatuan Belia Islam Nasional (PEMBINA) and several other NGOs gathered at the Turkish Embassy this morning to submit a memorandum of support.
Smaller protest at National Mosque

KUALA LUMPUR: A smaller protest was also held today in which some 150 protesters from several NGOs gathered at the National Mosque here this afternoon.

During the protest, which comprised members of Umno Youth, Perkasa, Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma), Malaysian Muslim People's Coalition (IRIMM) as well as other non governmental organisations (NGOs), Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin stated there should be pressure to send yet another aid convoy to Gaza.

He said this was because the issue of Israel's three-year blockade had yet to be settled.

"Maybe this time around all Muslim (around the world) can get together and send a hundred ships to Gaza. We should also send more ships from Malaysia. The Umno youth are ready to make sure this is achieved," he said when speaking to reporters after addressing more than a hundred protesters who gathered outside the National Mosque here today.

The protesters carried banners and Palestine flags in condemnation of the Israeli attack on a Turkish ship, part of an international flotilla carrying aid to besieged Gaza last Monday.

Khairy told the gathering that should another ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza be attacked, the Zionist regime would have to deal with him and the rest of those who were angered by this action.

"The Zionist regime does not respect the law of the world and we want the United Nation's security council to take severe action over Israel following this incident," he said, adding it was very important to keep the issue alive.

"There are protests going on all over the country. The more, the merrier, because we want to remind Malaysians to be aware of what's going on. They should support whatever initiatives which are directed towards the Palestinians and they must also oppose the Israelis," he said.

"This also applies to the governments throughout the world because only then big names such as the United States would slowly realise and recognise the issue. However, this is not a Muslim issue or an an Islamic issue, but a world issue and we want to see a resolution against the cold treatment on Palestine," he said.

Meanwhile, Kimma president Mohd Fazil Abdullah said the United States should make a stand on the issue.

He said: "America should tell Israel what they are doing is wrong."

At the gathering, Khairy launched the 'SMS for Gaza' campaign to enable Malaysians to show their support for the Palestinians.

Malaysians can SMS 'GAZA' to 32928 to show their support and each would be charged a nominal rate of RM0.50.

Collection from SMS campaign, except for the telco service charges, would be donated to Gaza through the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

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