Arab masses condemn US strikes on Iraq

Cairo: Dec 19 (South News)- Hundreds of thousand of protesters in Arab capitals shouted angry slogans condemning Anglo-American air strikes on Baghdad.

Demonstrators throughout the Arab world condemned the attacks as an attempt by President Clinton to squirm out of the scandal over his sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. "For Monica's sake, Iraqi children are dying,'' read a sign waved during a protest at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque, one of the most famous in the Arab world.

20,000 Syrian high school and university students demonstrate in DamascusSyrian Parliament Speaker Abdul-Kader Qaddoura said the U.S. strikes "increased the suffering and pain'' of Iraq's people, "particularly its children and civilians.''
"(We) condemn and denounce this attack and call on the international community to condemn and halt it immediately,'' he told Parliament.

Libyans took to the streets of the capital, Tripoli, to protest U.S.-British military aggression on Iraq and to show their support for the Iraqi people.

The demonstrators, who flocked to Martyrs' Square following afternoon prayers today, condemned the airstrikes and shouted, ''Shame on the spies''  pledged to support Iraq in its confrontation with the United States and Britain over U.N. weapons inspections.

Libyan radio and television aired revolutionary songs and ran pictures showing the destruction in Baghdad and victims of the bombardment. Libyan newspapers described the strikes as ''a humiliation of the whole Arab nation.'' They called on citizens to boycott all U.S. and British products.

Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, expressed his "great concern over the military action against Iraq and its repercussions on the Iraqi people.''

In the Egyptian capital, hundreds of worshipers gathered at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque to shout demands for Arabs to defend Iraq against the American onslaught.

"Leaders of the country, let us go to holy war,'' the protesters chanted. The crowd of demonstrators briefly broke through a cordon of police surrounding the mosque before being shoved back onto the Al-Azhar grounds. Sheik Mohamed Tantawi, leader of Al-Azhar, also urged solidarity with the Iraqis. "Stand by the Iraqi people or we will be hit by God's damnation,'' he preached.

Inside the mosque, there were shouts urging attacks on American interests and belittling comments about Clinton's motive for the repeated missile strikes on Iraq. "Iraq is suffering because of an American whore and a big baby boy,'' said Mohammed Hassan, 20, a medical student.

Similar protests were staged in the capitals of Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen, where 15,000 people people marched through the streets of San`a shouting, "America is the enemy of the Muslims.''

In the West Bank, Palestininans rallied against Clinton for the second straight day, shouting "Death to America!''

In non-Arab Iran, demonstrators at Tehran's Palestine Square called for international intervention to stop "the massacre of innocent people'' in Iraq - traditionally an enemy of the Iranians.

In Lebanon's capital Beirut, about 2,500 people staged a sit-in outside U.N. headquarters. The protesters waved Iraqi flags and shouted, "Beloved Iraq, strike Tel Aviv,'' the Israeli coastal city.

The Egyptian-based Arab League called an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the situation in Iraq.

Its secretary-general, Esmat Abdel-Meguid, blamed the attack on last week's report by U.N. chief weapons inspector Richard Butler, saying he "intended to provoke Iraq and not be neutral'' in assessing Iraq's weapons programs.

About 300 police ringed a demonstration of 30-40 people at a mosque near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. In the Jordanian capital of Amman, about 500 demonstrators were surrounded by an equal number of police.

At Amman's University of Jordan mosque, the protesters called for an Arab revolt against the United States. "Saddam ... if you want commandos we are ready'' and "Syria, Jordan, Iraq - revolt and make Clinton go to hell'' were among slogans chanted.

Not one Arab government has expressed support for the airstrikes - which were also condemned by the world's largest Muslim group, the 52-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference based in Saudi Arabia.