By Farooq Sulehria
Anger surges in Middle East, reported Reuters on March 21.Would
have been even comprehensive news had Reuters used the word Muslim
World instead of Middle East.
Spontaneous demonstrations, turning violent at many places, across
Muslim world were the immediate reaction. Angry protestors in
Cairo clashed with police and eight demonstrators sustained injuries
at the hands of police. Cairo witnessed more clashes next day
and this time clashes between police and demonstrators left two
These clashes were not limited to Cairo only. In Yemen, charged
protestors clashed with police on March 21.Four people were reported
dead in the wake of clashes. A fairly successful strike was observed
in Pakistan on March 21 against the US attack on Iraq. The strike
call was given by MMA, an alliance of religious parties. The reaction
in Pakistan has been so strong that Pakistani Prime Minister,
Zafar Ullah Jamali, had to call off his scheduled US visit. The
Pakistani regime also announced to call off a SAF games, major
sports event in South Asia.
These reports suggest merely tip of the iceberg. The strong reaction
among masses has forced the rulers across the Muslim world to
oppose the war. It was for the fear of mass reaction that Arab
League, in its meeting held in the last week of February, took
a united stand against war. It was first time in years that Arab
League was seen united. Again it was the same fear that not a
single Arab country has joined the so-called US coalition against
war. Of all the 40 countries, supporting US war, there is not
a single Arab country. Even Kuwait did not dare join the coalition
despite Kuwait is the only country where some support for this
war could be found. There are only four Muslim countries--Afghanistan,
Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Albania--that one may find in the list
of 40 countries, issued by the USA that is supporting the war.
One does not need wasting space commenting on the regimes in these
countries and why they have joined this coalition!
However, on March 23 a protest demonstrations were held even
In Nigeria, the government has put a complete ban on public demonstration
following the outbreak of war. Nigerian government was perhaps
fearing Muslim-Christian riots. Nigerian police chief confirmed
the reports that Nigerians were enlisting themselves with an unidentified
group that is recruiting 'soldiers' to be sent to Iraq.
According to Daily Times, a leading Pakistani newspaper, the
regime in Bangla Desh has imposed censor on state media restricting
the coverage of Iraq issue. Reportedly, the censor has been imposed
following a 'request' by the US ambassador in Dacca. According
to the report, the US ambassador called on the Bangla Desh's foreign
minister and requested him that the demonstrations against US
war shouldn't be highlighted.
The US governmnet has closed down its embassies in 13 different
countries for the fear of attacks. Eight of these 13 countries
are Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where
the USA has most loyal regimes.
By the time of filing these lines, more reports of protests,
demonstrations and sit-ins outside US and British embassies across
Muslim world are pouring in: Million March in Pakistani town of
Lahore, one protestor shot dead in Sudan by police, 22 000-strong
student demo in Cairo etc etc.
The anger, by now, has been expressed mainly through demonstrations
and so on. However, the anger may translate into other forms.
The resistence shown by Iraqi Republican Guards at Umm Qasr and
the embarrassment inflicted on US forces may motivate a new mood
across Muslim world. Inspired by Iraqi resistence, this mood possibly
generate a situation where many volunteers will try to reach Iraq
to fight against the USA. The Jihadi groups across Muslim world
have networks and possibilities to organise such resistence militias.
However, it depends how events unfold in next few days.
Meantime, a friend from Pakistan sent an email last week to this
scribe that sums up the mood!
It says that the US flag is selling like a hot cake these days
so that it can be burnt on demonstrations....