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THE MIDDLE EAST

Protests Rage Across Arab Lands

April 06, 2002|From Reuters

MANAMA, Bahrain — From North Africa to the Persian Gulf, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets Friday, defying rubber bullets and tear gas to vent their anger against Israel's military offensive in the West Bank.

Protests turned violent in Bahrain, where demonstrators attacked the U.S. Embassy, some breaking into the compound and smashing windows. Riot police in Jordan used water cannons to disperse protesters marching on the Israeli Embassy in Amman. In Tunisia, police stormed demonstrators gathering despite a government ban, beating them with truncheons.

Rallies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon went peacefully, but most demonstrators appeared unimpressed with President Bush's call Thursday for Israel to pull back from Palestinian areas and his decision to send Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to the region.

Some Arabs instead lamented Bush's comments lambasting the Palestinian leadership and focused their hostility on the United States and U.S. symbols, burning American flags and attacking McDonald's restaurants.

In Bahrain, home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, demonstrators hurled stones and gasoline bombs at the U.S. Embassy, some yelling, "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!"

Riot police dispersed the protesters after about an hour and fired volleys of tear gas to prevent them from regrouping. The demonstration was one of the biggest political gatherings in years in the conservative Persian Gulf state.

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