Indonesians rally in support of Palestinians in Gaza

More than one thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather in front of landmark palace in North Sumatra’s Medan.

Pro-Palestinian protesters have rallied in Medan, Indonesia [Aisyah Llewellyn/Al Jazeera]

Medan, Indonesia – More than 1000 Indonesians have rallied in support of Palestine in North Sumatra’s biggest city and capital, with attendees describing their fellow Muslims in the Middle East as being “like family”.

The pro-Palestine rally in Medan took place on Sunday in front of Istana Maimoon, the former palace of the Sultan of Deli, a major landmark sometimes likened to Buckingham Palace in the UK.

Local resident Mustafa Kamal Harahap, 40, said that he felt it was his duty to come and show his support as a Muslim.

“Each time there is a demonstration, I bring the children because it is important for me to teach them about humanity,” Harahap, who attended the rally with his three children aged seven, nine and 13, told Al Jazeera.

Mustafa Kamal Harahap attended the rally with his children [Aisyah Llewellyn/Al Jazeera]

“My motivation for attending these protests is that we hope that Palestine will be given its freedom and that there will be a ceasefire because, as the war goes on, there are more and more victims.”

Harahap said that he had attended three other protests in different parts of Sumatra in support of Palestine and would attend any others that were organised.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have taken place all across Indonesia since the start of the war in Gaza.

Indonesia, where public sentiment is largely pro-Palestinian, is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, with about 87 percent of the country’s 270 million people following Islam.

In addition to protests, there have also been calls across the country to boycott businesses perceived as being affiliated with Israel, including McDonald’s and Starbucks.

In Medan, local housewife Eka Sari, 50, said she attended the rally as she was keen to support the Palestinian cause any way she could.

“We would go over there to Palestine and help if we could, but we can’t, so this is the best we can do to show our support,” Sari told Al Jazeera. “It is the least we can do.”

Sari said that many of the participants were housewives who were prepared to go to Palestine at a moment’s notice to cook and help with logistics.

Eka Sari believes it is important to support the Palestinian cause [Aisyah Llewellyn/Al Jazeera]

The Medan rally was organised as an interfaith event, with Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist and Confucian speakers invited to attend as representatives of the six official religions of Indonesia.

Indonesia does not have formal diplomatic ties with Israel and Judaism is not recognised as an official religion in the country.

Housewife Sari said that while religion was a factor in supporting Palestinians, the issue of humanitarian aid to Gaza was of paramount importance.

“Even if we take religion out of it, these people have no humanity,” she said, referring to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

“They are bombing hospitals and children in schools so that they have no access to education any more and can’t play in their own streets.”

“The Zionists don’t care where they bomb.”

Source: Al Jazeera