‘Day of jihad’ protests draw tens of thousands around world as demonstrators clash with cops, burn US, Israel flags
Tens of thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators flooded streets in more than a dozen countries Friday, clashing with police and burning US and Israeli flags in condemnation of the military counteroffensive underway in Gaza.
The protests were part of a so-called “day of jihad” demanded by former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who urged Arabs and Muslims around the world to “deliver a message of anger that we are with Palestine” after weekly prayers.
Meshaal — who led the Islamist militant group from 2004 to 2017 — currently serves as head of the Hamas diaspora office in Qatar. He called it a “duty” of the governments and people of Israel-neighboring Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan to join the fight.
But the street protests spread far beyond the Middle East, with at-times violent demonstrations breaking out as far away as Japan, Germany and Australia.
Australia was the site of a number of vigils and gatherings in support of Israel on Friday, but thousands of demonstrators also took to the streets in Brisbane, Canberra and Perth to voice their opposition to the war.
Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, shouted slogans and brandished signs bearing anti-Israel messages.
In Bangladesh, angry demonstrators torched American and Israeli flags in the capital city of Dhaka as a large street protest unfolded.
Many people in the assembled crowd displayed flags and held up anti-war placards, including an image of President Biden defaced with a Hitler mustache. In one photo, demonstrators were seen setting fire to an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A massive gathering took place at Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo on Friday. The crowd loudly chanted pledges to “sacrifice our blood and our souls” in the fight against Israel.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country on Thursday on the grounds they were “likely to generate public order disturbances.”
But hundreds of protesters ignored the ban on Friday, risking arrest to gather in central Paris for a mass rally. French police used water and tear gas to disperse the unruly crowds, who ignited flares and vandalized monuments at Place de Republique.
In the days since Hamas’ surprise missile attack against Israel, French police have arrested more than 20 people in dozens of antisemitic acts, including harassment of Jewish schoolchildren, the government said this week.
France was the site of one of the worst acts of violence believed to be connected to the day of jihad so far. A knife-wielding Chechen refugee — who was on a terror watchlist in France — fatally stabbed a 57-year-old teacher at his former high school and critically wounded two others in northern France on Friday after allegedly yelling, “Allahu Akbar.”
Several pro-Palestinian demonstrators were arrested in Germany on Friday as groups of protesters confronted police in riot gear who were attempting to control the crowds.
One protester was taken into custody after throwing an officer to the ground, and photos showed another’s face was bloodied after tangling with police.
Indian security forces detained numerous pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the Jantar Mantar protest site in New Delhi, including a group of student organizers. Large groups of Kashmiri Muslims were seen holding up signs and banners while chanting anti-Israel slogans. In one photo, a woman was seen being dragged away by security forces who held her arms as she continued shouting.
In Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population at 231 million adherents, hundreds gathered at protest sites around the country to protest Israel.
At a demonstration following prayers on Friday in Yogyakarta, multiple Indonesian schoolchildren were seen holding up toy machine guns and waving Palestinian flags, their young faces smeared with war paint.
Around 200 people also gathered outside the National Monument in capital city Jakarta, holding banners and hoisting signs in support of the Palestinians.
In Iran, one of Israel’s biggest regional rivals — which is believed to have played a role in Hamas executing the surprise attack last weekend — burned Israeli and American flags at demonstrations in the capital city of Tehran.
Protesters on the ground could be heard chanting slogans like “Death to Israel,” “Death to America” and “Palestine will be the conqueror.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-liner who cast doubt on the existence of the Holocaust in an eyebrow-raising “60 Minutes” interview last year, warned in a speech that “the people of the world and Palestine will cause trouble for you.”
Baghdad’s Tahir Square was the site of a massive anti-Israel protest, where thousands of demonstrators burned large Israeli flags in the streets, among them supporters of influential Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Members of Japan’s Muslim community held a rally outside of the Israel Embassy in central Tokyo, shouting slogans through bullhorns and tussling with police.
In Jordan, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinian expats, over 10,000 protesters flocked to the Jordanian capital of Amman on Friday near the Grand Husseini Mosque to voice their opposition to Israel. Riot police dispersed a crowd of hundreds by force as they attempted to reach a zone bordering the West Bank.
In Lebanon, thousands of supporters of the country’s homegrown, Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group gathered in Beirut to speak out against Israel.
Naim Qassem, deputy chief of the large and heavily armed militia, which has already exchanged fire with Israeli forces since the start of the war, said Hezbollah stands “fully prepared” to join Hamas in the war with Israel.
Anti-Israel demonstrators burned dozens of Israeli flags at a protest in Kuala Lumpur as a large group marched on the US Embassy. Images from the gathering show a group of children stepping on a photo of Netanyahu that was doctored to include devil horns and evil red eyes.
Dozens of demonstrations took place across Pakistan Friday, as protesters streamed into the streets of cities including Peshawar, Hyderabad and Islamabad, treading on American and Israeli flags that had been placed in the streets in a show of disrespect.
Multiple Israeli flags were set ablaze as those gathered chanted anti-Israel slogans.
In the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, Palestinian supporters waved flags and held up banners with messages including, “Palestine you will never walk alone.”
Demonstrators in Yemen packed the streets of Sanaa, waving fists and Yemeni and Palestinian flags as they proclaimed, “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse of the Jews; victory to Islam.”
With Post wires