Islamic groups to protest over Bush's visit to India

Indian communist and Islamic leaders said Tuesday they plan to greet U.S. President George Bush with protests against American policy in Afghanistan and the Middle East when the leader arrives later this week.

Communist politicians and Muslim leaders are predicting tens of thousands of people will turn out to protest Bush, who arrives Wednesday.

The communists, who are key allies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government, are planning a protest Thursday at India's Parliament, a few kilometers (miles) from where Bush and the Indian prime minister will meet in New Delhi.

"Up to 50,000 people will take part in the march, and we have the police permission to express our feelings," said Pushpender Grewal, secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

"We will protest against the U.S. policies, especially the inhuman atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq, a likely invasion of Iran and its continuing support to Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine," Grewal said.

On Friday, Bush will head for the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, a key center of India's booming information technology industry. Muslim groups there have called for a daylong strike to protest his visit.

In Hyderabad, where Muslims comprise nearly 40 percent of the city's 7 million people, Bush plans to visit an agriculture university and a business management school.

"We are appealing to the people to keep their shops and business closed on the day of Bush's visit as a mark of protest," said Abdul Rahim Qureshi, a leader of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an association of several Muslim groups that is trying to organize the strike, reports the AP.


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