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Anti-Israeli protests spill into Nairobi

Friday January 2 2009

Demonstrators tear up and burn a paper-made

Demonstrators tear up and burn a paper-made lsraeli flag in Nairobi on Friday in protest at Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Photo/MOHAMED DAHIR 

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU

Protests over Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip spilled into the streets of Nairobi on Friday as Muslims in the city vowed to march to that country’s embassy and seek audience with the ambassador.

They want the envoy to “either apologise for the atrocities or vacate the country.”

The atmosphere was charged at Nairobi’s Jamia Mosque during Friday prayers after Muslims were informed that dozens of women and children had been killed in the attacks.

Speeches at the rally held in Banda Street outside the Jamia Mosque shortly after the prayers were punctuated with shouts of “genocide”, “holocaust” and “massacre”.

Human rights

The Muslims urged President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to cut ties with Israel as a show of Kenya’s commitment to human rights.

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They also urged the Government to send a strong letter of protest to Israel over the attacks.

Vice-chairperson of the Government’s human rights watchdog, Kenya National Human Rights Commission Hassan Omar said the attacks were an excuse by the West to continue oppressing Muslims.

“Whether or not the police commissioner allows us to protest next week, we’ll go to that embassy and give them a piece of our mind,” Mr Omar said.

The Muslims also condemned Arab envoys in Kenya for failing to “act in solidarity with Palestine.”

Only the Iranian ambassador, Mr Hamid Moayyer, has condemned the attacks.

Israel says that its assault on Gaza is aimed at ending persistent Hamas rocket attacks, but the offensive has sparked international condemnation and protests.

The body count following the attacks hit 420 yesterday morning, with another 2,100 critically wounded.

Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabir said he would petition Muslim MPs to pass a vote of no confidence in Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula if he did not condemn the attacks.