Malaysians protest flotilla raid

2010-06-04 12:26

Kuala Lumpur - Some 5 000 Malaysians including opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim rallied on Friday outside the US embassy where the Israeli flag was burnt in protest over the Gaza aid flotilla raid.

Protesters from both the ruling party and the opposition alliance yelled slogans and waved banners after marching from a Kuala Lumpur mosque, virtually closing down the main thoroughfare the embassy is situated on.

Some demonstrators burned the Israeli flag while others brandished posters that said "Destroy America, Destroy Israel - Long Live Islam" and "Allah will destroy you Israel".

Many in the crowd wore red-and-white checked Palestinian headscarves.

"I am very angry. We are against Zionists and their allies," said one protester, Khairul Ismail.

Anwar entered the embassy to deliver a letter signed by leaders of his Pakatan Rakyat alliance - which includes the conservative Islamic party PAS - as well as 20 civil society groups.

The letter called on US President Barack Obama to condemn the violence against the flotilla and for Israel to end a blockade on Gaza.

It called for an independent inquiry into the incident, and urged the United States to suspend military and economic aid to Israel.

"We are appalled and deeply disappointed by your weak and inadequate response on the matter," the letter said.

Israel's commando assault Monday on the Gaza aid flotilla, which left nine people dead, has triggered outrage in Malaysia, which does not recognise the Jewish state.

Another vessel, the Rachel Corrie which is sponsored by a Malaysian foundation, is set to arrive off Gaza on Saturday with Malaysian and Irish activists aboard.