Malaysia and Indonesia protesters support Palestine

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Over the weekend, large protests took place in Indonesia and Malaysia in support of Palestine and against Israel’s potential ground offensive in Gaza. These demonstrations were part of a broader wave of protests across the Muslim world and beyond. These protests came in response to recent events, including incursions by the militant group Hamas into southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, around 15,000 people gathered after Friday prayers to condemn Israel’s air attacks and the impending ground assault on Gaza. The protesters wore Palestinian scarves and carried signs with messages like “Israel is frightened.” They burned effigies draped in the Israeli flag and chanted slogans in support of Palestine and against the Zionists.

The protest in Kuala Lumpur saw the participation of prominent politicians from different political backgrounds, showing unity in condemning the Israeli actions. In Indonesia, thousands of citizens in Jakarta held protests, denouncing Israel as the “real terrorist.” Labor groups also protested in front of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, urging President Joe Biden not to support the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Both Indonesia and Malaysia have a history of supporting the Palestinian cause. Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for an immediate end to the violence and stressed the need to address the root cause of the conflict, which is the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Malaysia’s government made a similar point, criticizing the world’s hypocrisy in dealing with regimes that violate human rights and international law. Brunei’s Foreign Ministry also called for urgent action to create conditions for peace talks.

These protests highlight the enduring support for the Palestinian cause in Muslim-majority Southeast Asia, reflecting a historical and postcolonial solidarity with the struggle against colonialism. While Western leaders have expressed support for Israel’s right to respond to Hamas’ attacks, public and elite opinion in much of the Muslim world, including Southeast Asia, leans toward supporting the Palestinian side.

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