- TEHRAN (AFP) - A hardline
Iranian military commander called for the creation of a 100 million strong
Islamic militia to free Palestine as some 10,000 protestors burned Israeli
and US flags in the capital.
- The demonstrators took to the streets after Friday prayers
in response to calls from conservatives within the Islamic regime, incensed
at a new US law effectively recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
- If just a tenth of the world's one billion Muslims joined
a worldwide militia, the Jewish state could be overthrown, Revolutionary
Guards commander Yahyia Rahim Safavi told Iranian militiamen in the town
of Semnan, east of the capital.
- "The sole way of defeating the Zionist regime is
to create an Islamic militia with the assistance of all the Muslim peoples
of the world," the official IRNA news agency quoted Safavi as telling
some 15,000 militiamen taking part in an exercise.
- "If one-tenth of the world's Muslims take part and
set up an Islamic militia of 100 million people, then all Muslim peoples
will be able to participate in the holy war for the liberation of Palestine.
- "The US goal in attacking Iraq is not to overthrow
of President Saddam Hussein, but to safeguard the Zionist regime,"
Safavi told the young militiamen, part of a seven million strong force
which the Islamic regime has used in the past to put down unrest on the
- In the capital, some 10,000 demonstrators marched from
Tehran University to Palestine Square in the city centre after the prayers,
carrying pictures of Jerusalem surrounded by barbed wire in the shape of
the Star of David.
- "Death to Israel, Death to America," the protestors
chanted before torching huge Israeli and US flags.
- US President George W. Bush last week signed into law
the 2003 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, a funding bill which also
called for the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
- But in an accompanying message, he reserved the right
to ignore provisions of the bill that infringe on his constitutional responsibility
for US foreign policy.
- Washington has long said it will take no steps that might
prejudge the status of the holy city, which is also claimed as capital
by the Palestinians, ahead of a Middle East peace settlement.