Half million Moroccans march to back Palestinians

RABAT, Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of Moroccans burning Israeli and U.S. flags and chanting “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) is Arab and Muslim” demonstrated in Rabat on Sunday against the killing of Palestinians and Arabs by Israeli forces.

“No concession, no compromise over Al Quds … Palestine is in our heart, in our blood and mind … We will never forget it and never give up the struggle for it,” shouted the demonstrators, led by left-wing parties and unions.

The protesters, including socialist Prime Minister Abderrahmane El Youssoufi and marxist-leninist leader Abraham Serfaty, held Palestinian flags and banners with anti-Israeli and anti-American slogans and called for the return of Jerusalem to Arab control.

Some demanded a holy war to “liberate” the city.

“Enough wars! America is behind wars … America is the enemy of the people … A Jihad (holy war) is needed to liberate al-Quds,” chanted scores of young bearded men and veiled women, members of the radical Islamist al-Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice and Charity) group.

The protesters were angry at Washington’s abstention in Saturday’s U.N. Security Council vote which condemned “the excessive use of force” against Palestinians.

Dozens of Moroccan policemen surrounded the U.S. embassy and American information, commercial and education centers, which have been closed since Friday, to protect against possible attacks by the demonstrators.

The Islamists, including Al-Adala Wal Tanmiya (Justice and Development) groups mobilized more than half of the 500,000 demonstrators, a police officer told Reuters.

Morocco has low-level diplomatic ties with Israel but has said it will not upgrade these to embassy level until Israel withdraws from all Arab lands, including Jerusalem, which the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed.