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Muslims take to streets over Gaza raids

Friday January 9 2009

Muslims demonstrating in Nairobi against the

Muslims demonstrating in Nairobi against the invasion of the Gaza strip by Israel's army. PHOTO/ ANTHONY OMUYA 

By KIBIWOTT KOROSS

Thousands of Muslims on Friday thronged the streets of Nairobi to protest against Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The procession started outside Jamia Mosque and headed to Muindi Mbingu Street then Valley Road, where it caused a heavy traffic jam.

Men, women and children carried placards, shoes and Palestinian and Israeli flags and chanted slogans. They later reconvened at Jamia for prayers.

Their attempts to march to the Israeli Embassy were thwarted when they were dispersed by anti-riot police using water and tear gas.

Two people were reportedly injured, with a middle-aged woman being hit by a flying tear gas canister.

“We feel for our brothers and sisters who are dying as the world is watching” said Mr Hassan Omar Hassan, the vice chairman of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. “The world is keeping quiet as Israel continues to oppress innocent people in Gaza.”

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Mr Hassan called on President Kibaki to condemn the killings. He said that Kenya, as a country that values human rights, must condemn the killings.

The protesters accused the Israeli Government of unleashing terror in Gaza and killing hundreds of people since the attacks began on December 27, 2008.

Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims chairman Abdulghafur El-Busaidy accused the United States of supporting Israel in killing people on the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The enraged faithful blocked the busy Banda Street and at times became violent as they attempted to remove those donning Muslim regalia from their vehicles.

Later on, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was scheduled to receive their memorandum, gave a statement in which he supported the immediate withdrawal of Israel from Gaza.

“I call upon the entire international community to use all means at their disposal to persuade both parties to cease fire,” said the statement.

Friday prayers

Immediately after Friday prayers, the more than 3,000 Muslims marched along Banda Street, Muindi Mbingu Street and Jomo Kenyatta Avenue, causing a huge snarl up of vehicles.

The demonstration went on peacefully until police from Central Police Station tried to stopped it at the Jomo Kenyatta Avenue-Uhuru Highway roundabout.

There was commotion as the Central Police OCPD was surrounded by some youths who demanded that they be allowed to express their anger.

But their journey towards the Israeli Embassy in Upper Hill was short-lived as a combined force of police from Kilimani, Ongata Rongai and Ngong blocked the road at the Ngong Road junction.

They later re-grouped outside Jamia Mosque and expressed their displeasure with the manner in which the Government treated them.