Boycott of American products called for at demonstration
CAIRO: Thousands rallied at Al Azhar Mosque following Friday prayers in protest of the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza. The Muslim Brotherhood organized event proceeded peacefully, with leading Islamic figures speaking to the approximately 5,000 supporters. Mohamed Habib, deputy of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, called for a boycott of American and Israeli products in light of the recent actions both governments have taken.
Habib and Imam Sayyed Askary, of Al Azhar, called on Muslims worldwide to force their governments to stop dealing with Israel if it continues to use aggression and force to continue in Gaza. “We call on all Muslims to boycott products from America if that country continues to give lip service to democracy and allow this atrocity to continue, Habib says.
There was no crack down on the demonstration, which remained inside the courtyard at Al Azhar, by the thousands of security forces clad in riot gear lined up alongside Cairo’s most famous mosque.
“Arab leaders start jihad, God is Great, was heard from groups of men in the mosque. Nearby women were heard to say, “keep our country free and tell the Israeli ambassador to leave.
“This is not a violent jihad, however, says Reda, 29, an accountant who originally came to Al Azhar to pray but found him standing in support at the demonstration. “It is in order to show Israel that we won’t stand by and let them do these things . we will employ jihad to support our Palestinian brothers.
He made it clear this was not a call to jihad similar to the call following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The purpose of a demonstration of this kind, Reda believes, is to give Hamas support, something he feels they have not been receiving following the American campaign to isolate the elected government of Palestine.
“We are angry at what happened in Gaza this past week, continues Reda. “We are supporting Hamas and the Palestinian government and want to show them that we will be there for them as they continue their resistance against Israel.
The demonstration lasted a little over an hour and by mid afternoon only a few demonstrators were left on the outskirts of the Al Azhar mosque.
“I participated in the demonstration because I wanted to express my feelings and call on the presidents in the region to stop dealing with Israel and the United States and to back Hamas, says Reda.
He believes and says that most of the supporters present at the demonstration would argue the same, that if Muslims are to achieve freedom they must show America their disappointment in what has been said.
“There is no balance, equality in the situation, starts the 29 year-old accountant. “The double standards that America shows the world is disappointing to us as a people . they need to start to spread real democracy in the region if we are to respect them once again and end the boycott.
“I believe the boycott is a good idea because it is the only thing we can do at this point that will affect anything.
Egypt has taken lead in diplomatic efforts to release the Israeli soldier, fearing the crisis could spiral out of control if not contained immediately. President Hosni Mubarak said the militants had agreed to a conditional release of the soldier. According to the Associated Press, Israeli officials said they had no information on a deal, but one said a planned ground offensive in Gaza had been delayed to give time to Egyptian mediators.
In other news, smaller demonstrations were held in other parts of the Arab world, sparked by the Israeli assault on Gaza in response to the abduction of an Israeli soldier in the Palestinian territory. Demonstrations were held in Beirut, southern Lebanon and Baqaa in Jordan. All rallies ended peacefully.