Kashmir Shiites Burn Bush Effigy
27 February 2006
Srinagar: Several thousand Shiite Muslims Monday held demonstrations for a fourth consecutive day in revolt-hit Indian Kashmir to protest at the bombing of their shrine in Iraq, witnesses said. The biggest demonstration was held in the summer capital Srinagar with protesters burning a huge effigy of U.S. President George W. Bush, who is due in India later in the week, they said. The effigy was emblazoned with the words 'Muslim-Kush G.W. Bush' ('anti-Muslim G. W. Bush'). It was set alight in front of a small UN military office in Srinagar as protestors, many wearing black headbands, shouted anti-U.S. slogans such as 'Down with Bush, down with America'. The demonstration was led by key Shiite religious leader Aga Syed Hassan, who is a member of the region's moderate separatist alliance. Hassan later presented a memorandum to UN officials addressed to Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to hand out 'exemplary punishment to those who desecrate holy shrines.' Hassan denounced Wednesday's attack as 'barbaric.' The bombing destroyed the gilded dome of the Shiites' 1,000-year-old Imam Ali al-Hadi mausoleum in Samarra. Shiites are a minority in Sunni-dominated Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state where an anti-Indian insurgency has claimed more than 44,000 lives by official count. The Shiites, joined by Sunnis in some areas, have been holding demonstrations since Thursday over the bombing.