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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Raids split US friends and foes
Pro-Taleban protesters in Pakistan
Muslim countries are under pressure to denounce the attacks
While western leaders have voiced support for the US-led strikes against Afghanistan, some Muslim countries have come under pressure from their own populations for not opposing the attacks.

Many Muslim countries have found themselves in an awkward position, caught between supporting the anti-terror coalition and public hostility towards the air raids.

One Pakistani protester was killed when an anti-war demonstration turned violent, and three Palestinians were killed in clashes with Palestinian police in Gaza.

I urge restraint and no widening of the confrontation

Amr Moussa, Arab League Secretary-General
Pakistan, which has joined the US-led coalition against terrorism despite its former close ties with the Taleban, said it had done all that was possible to persuade the Afghan regime to hand over Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden.

"It remains our hope that the US and allied action remains clearly targeted," an official statement said.

Several Muslim leaders in Pakistan, where a large swathe of public opinion favours the Taleban, denounced the strikes and urged support for Afghanistan.

Pro-Taleban demonstrators
Pro-Taleban demonstrators took to the streets of Karachi
"We appeal to all Muslims living anywhere in the world to extend full support to their Afghan brothers at this critical time," said the Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith Pakistan group.

The Taleban's consul-general in the Pakistani city of Karachi said the Taleban were "ready for jihad" - holy war.

The Arab League urged restraint and warned against expanding military operations to include any Arab country.

Western support

The European Union voiced its complete support for the raids, saying the Taleban and Bin Laden were "facing the consequences of their action".

The EU declares its full solidarity with the United States

EU statement
It said: "The Afghan people deserve a government which is truly representative... Such a government will find a ready partner in the EU".

Nato Secretary-General Lord Robertson pledged "the full-hearted support of the whole Nato alliance for America in its hour of need", adding, "The alliance stands ready to play its role".

Turkey, Nato's only Muslim member, reaffirmed its support for the US campaign but said it hoped the action against Afghanistan would be short.

"We hope the United States acts wisely and that innocent people are spared," Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer told US Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Egypt: "The US has the right to retaliate"

Pope John Paul II voiced his "anxiety and concern" at the air strikes, calling the present time a "delicate moment in international life".

Russia, which is fighting what it calls "terrorists" in the separatist republic of Chechnya, welcomed the attacks and seized the opportunity to urge action against terrorists everywhere.

"It is time for decisive action with this evil. Terrorists wherever they are - in Afghanistan, Chechnya, the Middle East or the Balkans - should know that they will be taken to justice," a foreign ministry statement read.

China said it supported action against terrorism provided it was limited to "specific objectives" and avoided civilian casualties.

Public backlash

Egypt, which has supported the US anti-terror campaign, said it recognised America's right to hit Afghanistan "if it has conclusive evidence" of the Taleban's and Bin Laden's guilt, but said it was concerned for the sufferings of the Afghan people.

Jordan said it supported what it called "international efforts to combat terrorism" but also stressed the need to spare innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

A government spokesman added that: "The fight against terrorism must not be confined to the military aspect but extend to ... a just settlement of the Palestinian question on the basis of international law".

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamist opposition group, condemned the attacks, saying: "It is clear that this war targets the Islamic and Muslim renaissance."

It is a brave decision by the president

Shimon Peres, Israeli foreign minister

Meanwhile, Israel, whose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received a rare rebuke from the White House last week after declaring the US was "appeasing" Arab nations, rapidly weighed in with admiration for US President George W Bush.

The Palestinian Authority said it had not held a formal discussion on the strikes and would formulate a response at a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers. Palestinian leaders found themselves isolated after supporting Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991.

Anxious to avoid repeat scenes of Palestinians celebrating after the attacks on New York and Washington, Palestinian police broke up an anti-American demonstration at Gaza City's Islamic university on Monday.

Three Palestinians were shot dead in a gun battle between police and students in the worst internal fighting for years.

The hardline Palestinian movement Hamas called the American strikes a "consecration of an international policy of terrorism".

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
The Iraqi leader said the strikes would destabilise the world
Saudi Arabia, which resisted pressure to allow US planes to launch attacks from air bases on its territory, made no official comment on the raids.

The government of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, said it hoped the action would be "limited in nature".

Hundreds of members of the hardline Front for the Defenders of Islam protested against the US-led strikes outside the American embassy in Jakarta and threatened to destroy the building if the government did not sever ties with the US within three days.


America's long-term foes, Iraq and Iran, denounced the raids. Sudan, itself a target of US cruise missile strikes three years ago, was also vociferous in its condemnation of the attacks.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, whose country is under US-led UN sanctions, condemned the "aggression" against Afghanistan.

"The true believers cannot but condemn this act, not because it has been committed by America against a Muslim people, but because it is an aggression perpetrated outside international law," said an official statement read out on state television.

It is not acceptable

Iranian foreign ministry

Iran said the attacks against its neighbour were unacceptable.

"I express my concern about this vast operation in Afghanistan and this attack which would result in the loss of life among civilians," said foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, quoted by the state IRNA news agency.

In several European capitals, including Rome, Madrid, London and Amsterdam, hundreds of anti-war demonstrators took to the streets to protest the strikes.

In the Italian capital, several hundred people gathered outside the UN building in the city centre bearing banners, while similar sit-down protests took place in the northern cities of Turin and Milan.

In London, more than 100 people gathered outside Downing Street, chanting "stop the war, feed the poor" in protest at the strikes, in which Britain is assisting the US.

The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
reports on international reaction to the air strikes
The BBC's James Rodgers, in Moscow
"There have been one or two dissenting voices"
The BBC's Rob Broomby, in Berlin
"(Germany) remain politically supportive"
The BBC's Jim Muir
"Iranian leaders are clearly suspicious of US strategic intentions"
See also:

07 Oct 01 | Middle East
Expats fear attacks backlash
01 Oct 01 | Americas
Profile: US special forces
06 Oct 01 | South Asia
US begins ground deployment
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