Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Muslims in Taipei protest Israel

GAZA ANGER Protesters chanted slogans outside the Israeli representative office and rejected a meeting with officials there who said they weren’t fully informed

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Chinese Muslim Association hold a demonstration outside the Taipei Grand Mosque yesterday. The demonstrators accused Israel of being a state terrorist and demanded that it stop attacking civilians in the Gaza Strip.

PHOTO: CNA

Muslims in Taiwan staged a demonstration outside the Taipei Grand Mosque yesterday, accusing Israel of being a state terrorist, and demanding it stop attacking civilians in the Gaza Strip.

“Over a thousand people were killed in a little more than half a month since Israel launched its recent attack on the Gaza Strip, but the UN failed to exercise any effective intervention,” Ishag Ma (馬孝棋), Chinese Muslim Association deputy secretary-general, told hundreds of Muslims who came out of the mosque to join the protest after attending the Friday prayer.

“That’s why we gather peacefully here to urge the UN to do something,” Ma said.

“Shame, shame, Israel!” protesters chanted while holding signs with slogans in Chinese, English, and Arabic condemning Israel and pleading for it to stop the attacks.

They also showed pictures of injured Palestinian children.

Yesterday marked the 21st day since Israel launched a massive attack in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian National Authority, in retaliation for rocket attacks by Hamas.

Hamas rockets have killed around 20 Israeli civilians, while the Israeli offensive has caused more than 1,000 deaths including over 300 children, Gaza medics say.

“This is not just about Muslims or Palestinians, everyone — no matter whether you’re a Muslim, Christian or Buddhist, you’re Taiwanese or American — should stand out agsinst it,” Rehmat Khan, originally from Pakistan, said. “Israel is a terrorist state that kills people like slaughtering animals.”

While he agreed that rocket fire on Israeli civilians should be halted as well, Pakistani Rizwan Ahmed Khan said that Israel’s retaliation was not justified.

“Sixteen people were killed [by Hamas rockets] in five years, but you murdered over a thousand people including 300 children and a lot of old people in just how many days? How is that fair?” Rizwan Ahmed Khan said.

After chanting slogans, demonstrators marched while holding a 5m banner with the star of David — a symbol of Israel — on it.

“If Israelis believe themselves to be God’s chosen people, they should act like it — murdering innocent people certainly isn’t what God’s chosen people should do,” Ma said.

Meanwhile, dozens of antiwar activists mobilized by the Labor Rights Association staged a separate protest near the Israeli representative office in Taipei yesterday morning, calling on Israel to withdraw from Palestine.

The protesters simulated corpses by wrapping themselves in white cloth and lying on the ground in front of the Israeli office.

While Israeli diplomats from the Israeli representative office were willing to meet with the protesters, the group rejected it.

“We don’t want to hear any explanation from Israel — the only response we want is the immediate halt of military action in Gaza,” the group’s secretary-general, Tang Shu (唐曙), said.

When reached by the Taipei Times for response, Israeli representative to Taiwan Raphael Gamzou said: “I believe the distinguished demonstrators are probably not fully informed about the situation in our area.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU

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