KABUL/JAKARTA (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority countries in Asia rallied on Friday to condemn the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as authorities tightened security outside U.S. embassies.
Leaders in Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan have joined a global chorus of condemnation of President Donald Trump’s decision.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Afghanistan’s capital with placards, effigies of Trump and at least one burning U.S. flag.
“Death to America! Death to Trump and Israel!” the crowds chanted.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, a staunch U.S. ally, has not commented on the Trump decision.
In Indonesia, a few hundred demonstrators mostly clad in white rallied outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, capital of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.
Some wore checkered scarves and waved Palestinian flags.
“We’re standing here in the name of justice and humanity. We’ve gathered to defend our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” said one rally leader in Jakarta.
Trump said on Wednesday the United States would move its embassy to Jerusalem in the coming years.
Protests have erupted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians to launch a fresh uprising against Israel.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.
In Malaysia, protesters gathered in front of the American embassy in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
“Mr President, this is an illegal announcement. Jerusalem is an occupied territory,” Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin said through a loudspeaker towards the embassy.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday called on Muslims worldwide to strongly oppose any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
About 3,000 people in Bangladesh gathered in front of the main mosque in the capital, Dhaka, to protest.
In Pakistan’s major cities, hundreds of Islamists hardliners rallied in small groups.
“Down with America, down with Israel and no to Israel occupation,” chanted protesters in the cities of Lahore and Peshawar.
Controversial Pakistani cleric Hafiz Saeed promised bigger protests over Jerusalem and urged the government to convene a conference of Muslim-majority states.
“Pakistan should take the lead, being the only nuclear state of the Islamic world,” said Saeed, who was released from house arrest last month by a Pakistani court.
The United States and India blame Saeed as the mastermind of the attacks that killed 166 people in India’s financial capital, Mumbai.
In Kashmir, small groups of people protested in Srinagar, the capital of the Indian portion of the divided Muslim-majority region that is claimed by both India and Pakistan.
“We condemn the idiot Trump’s decision,” said a placard on an effigy of the U.S. president.
Additional reporting by Joseph Sipalan in KUALA LUMPUR, Mubasher Bukhari in LAHORE, Pakistan; Jibran Ahmad in PESHAWAR, Pakistan; Serajul Quadir in DHAKA and Fayaz Bukhari in SRINAGAR; Writing by Ed Davies and Kay Johnson; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel
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