Hundreds of Thai Muslims protest Israel's attack on Gaza

Other News Materials 5 January 2009 09:02 (UTC +04:00)

Hundreds of Thai Muslims demonstrated Monday in front of Israel's embassy in Bangkok, waving banners, burning the Israeli flag and slingshotting balls of protest statements at the premises in reaction to Tel Aviv's invasion of Gaza, dpa reported.

About 400 members of the Muslim Group for Peace rallied in front of the embassy waving banners reading "Destroy Israel," "Stop the bloodshed," "Free Gaza" and "Where is the UN?"

After reading out a statement condemning Israel's attack on Gaza the protestors used slingshots to shoot rolled up balls of the statement at the Ocean Tower II Building, which houses the Israeli embassy on the 25th floor.

The protestors then burned the Israeli flag.

"Thai Muslims must condemn Israel for their attack on Gaza," said Usma Lukyee, a leader of the Muslim Group for Peace. "We want to send our support to our brothers in Palestine."

Usma said the group would hold another demonstration outside the Israeli embassy on Tuesday, when he expected over 1,000 Thai-Muslims to show up from all parts of Thailand.

Most of the demonstrators outside the embassy on Monday came from the large Muslim community living in Thonburi, Bangkok's sister city.

Muslims are a minority in Thailand, accounting for about 5 per cent of the population which is predominantly Buddhist.

An exception is Thailand's three southernmost provinces - Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala - where 80 per cent of the 2 million people are Muslim.

The area has been the scene of constant violence since January, 2004, when Muslim militants attacks an army arms depot and stole about 300 war weapons, prompting several bloody reprisals on the rebels that inflamed local antagonism against authorities.

Clashes, bombs, assassinations and beheadings have claimed some 3,000 casualties in the area over the past four years.

The three provinces comprised the independent Islamic sultanate of Pattani more than 200 years ago before it fell under Bangkok's rule.

A separatist struggle has simmered in the area for decades.