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900 Protest Crackdown on West Bank, Gaza Strip

January 02, 1988|KIRK JACKSON | Times Staff Writer

About 900 people marched, prayed and listened to speeches outside City Hall on Friday during a three-hour demonstration against Israel's recent crackdown on Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The crowd--mostly made up of Muslims--sharply criticized the government's use of violence, which has been blamed for the deaths of 22 Palestinians, including some children. The demonstrators, under the leadership of the Muslim Political Action Committee, passed around a petition calling for the Reagan Administration to end its support for Israel.

"We Muslims will come and wake up America because the aggression is financed from here,' Dr. Maher Hathout, a Pasadena cardiologist and prominent Muslim activist, said as he lead the crowd in a prayer.

Shouted Slogans

After the prayer, the demonstrators marched around City Hall carrying signs and shouting "We want peace, we want justice" and other slogans. Then they were addressed by Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious and civic leaders.

"I think Palestinians are opening the very eyes and ears of Americans for the first time in 40 years," radio and television personality Casey Kasem said.

One demonstrator compared the treatment of Arabs opposing Israel's occupation in the West Bank and Gaza to South Africa's treatment of blacks. "If you are a Jew you are OK," said Mamoon Mohammad, president of the 550-member Muslim Student Assn. of Greater Los Angeles. "If you are an Arab, whether Muslim or Christian, you have no rights whatsoever. We want to express this to the American people."

Mohammad said the United States had shown a "double standard" in its human rights policy by abstaining from a vote on a recent U.N. resolution to condemn Israel for the crackdown. "We (Arabs) are terrorists, but people who are killing young children, what do we call them? Democracy," he said.

Israeli government officials have defended their actions in Gaza and the West Bank as necessary to restore order.

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