Thousands of pro-Palestinian supporters marched after Friday prayers in Istanbul in an angry protest at the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, an AFP correspondent said.
Chanting slogans including “Jerusalem is ours and will remain so!” and “Down with America, down with Israel,” the protesters marched after prayers at the Ottoman Fatih mosque in the center of Istanbul, the correspondent added.
Other protests were planned elsewhere in Istanbul and across Turkey on Friday.
“We consider Jerusalem as the bastion of the Muslim community… We are here to show our unity and our strength. Nobody can deter us,” said protester Doguhan, 17.
Merve, a student, said she and her colleagues had left their classes to attend the protest, describing the US decision as “null and void.”
“What Trump says is empty words and means nothing to us. Whenever we see the name of Israel on a map, we cross it out and write Palestine,” she added.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken a strong line against the move and called an emergency summit meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on December 13 in Istanbul.
Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.
The two sides have since stepped up cooperation, particularly in energy, but Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, is still often bitterly critical of Israeli policy.
In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.