Muslims Show Solidarity with Palestinians in Middle East Protests
Muslims take to the streets in the Middle East to support Palestinians and denounce Israeli airstrikes, raising fears of regional conflict. Young Palestinians express frustration over unequal treatment. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and disputes a...
Troy D. Hanson
October 13, 2023
Thousands of Muslims took to the streets across the Middle East on Friday to express their support for the Palestinians and denounce the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. This widespread demonstration highlights the potential for a broader regional conflict as Israel considers a ground invasion.
Demonstrations Spread Across the Region
Protests unfolded from Amman, Jordan to Yemen's capital, with Muslims joining together after their Friday prayers. However, at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli police restricted entry to only older men, women, and children in an attempt to prevent mass demonstrations. Despite this, a Palestinian teenager and her mother were the only ones allowed into the compound out of twenty worshippers who tried.
Frustration Mounts Among Young Palestinians
Young Palestinian men, denied entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque, gathered near the Lion's Gate with downcast eyes. After police shouted at them, they were escorted out of the Old City. Ahmad Barbour, a 57-year-old cleaner dressed in a pristine white thobe, expressed his anger and frustration over being blocked from attending prayers. He voiced his frustration at the unequal treatment faced by Palestinians: "We can't live, we can't breathe. They are destroying everything that is good within us. What is forbidden to us is allowed for them."
The vivid demonstrations throughout the Middle East serve as a powerful reminder of the mounting tensions and the urgent need for resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Sacred Sites and Ongoing Struggles
The revered mosque, located on a hilltop compound, holds significant religious importance for both Jewish and Muslim communities. Unfortunately, disputes surrounding this site have previously resulted in violent clashes. Known as Al-Aqsa to Muslims, it stands as the third-holiest spot in Islam. Conversely, Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount, which holds the utmost sanctity in Judaism.
Gathering Momentum: Protests in Baghdad and Iran
In the heart of Baghdad, Tahrir Square witnessed an overwhelming turnout of tens of thousands for a protest organized by Muqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shiite cleric and political figure. In an online statement, Al-Sadr expressed his hopes that this demonstration would instill fear in what he calls the "great evil," America, accusing it of supporting Zionist terrorism against Palestinians.
Iran, a nation allied with Hamas and a staunch adversary of Israel, also saw its inhabitants take to the streets in a powerful show of solidarity. Protesters in Tehran, the capital, set Israeli and American flags ablaze while passionately chanting slogans such as "Death to Israel," "Death to America," "Israel will be doomed," and "Palestine will be the conqueror."
Yemen Unites Against Common Enemies
In Sanaa, the capital city of Yemen, which remains under the control of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels engaged in a protracted conflict with a Saudi-led coalition, demonstrative scenes unfolded on live television. Crowds brandished both Yemeni and Palestinian flags while voicing their collective discontent. The rebels have long rallied behind their slogan: "God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse of the Jews; victory to Islam."
Signaling Disrespect: Flag Walking in Islamabad
In Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, after prayers had concluded, some individuals deliberately stepped on American and Israeli flags to convey their disdain and lack of regard.
The ongoing struggle for dominance and control over these sacred sites continues to stoke tensions and prompt passionate protests across multiple regions.