KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A Malaysian Muslim group began a boycott of top U.S. products on Friday as protesters demanded a halt to the Gaza conflict amid growing anger in the Muslim world over Israel's 14-day offensive.
The Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia said Muslims in the Southeast Asian country would not buy goods produced by U.S. toothpaste manufacturer Colgate-Palmolive Co, soft drink maker Coca-Cola and coffee chain Starbucks to protest U.S. inaction against the attacks.
"We urge Muslim consumers internationally to unite so that we can teach a lesson to Israel and its allies," Ma'amor Osman, an official with the association, told reporters in the compound of the national mosque after Friday Muslim prayers.
"This is to object to the arrogance and cruelty of Israel and its allies towards the Palestinians."
He urged the Malaysian government to end all its contracts with U.S.-owned firms.
The United States is among Malaysia's single largest export markets, absorbing more than a tenth of its total shipments.
More than 750 have been killed in the Gaza clashes and Israel pushed ahead with its offensive on Friday, ignoring a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire to the conflict.
The attacks have sparked angry demonstrations in countries with large Muslim populations such as Indonesia, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
About 2,000 Muslim protesters gathered outside the U.S. embassy in the Malaysian capital on Friday, shouting anti-Israel slogans and "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest), as about 100 anti-riot police stood watch.
One protester carried a baby doll covered in a bloody shroud, while some burned effigies of U.S. President George W. Bush and Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Several mosques in the Malaysian capital held special prayers on Friday for the Palestinians.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has called for sanctions against Israel, saying the world has a "moral duty" to save the Palestinians, the New Straits Times newspaper reported on Friday.
Former premier Mahathir Mohamad urged Muslims worldwide to stop using the U.S. dollar.
"If enough of us do this, then the value (of the US dollar) will fall, just like what they did to us in 1997," Mahathir said, referring to the 1997 Asian economic crisis that he blamed on currency speculators.
Mahathir urged the United Nations to set up a war crimes tribunal to try Israeli leaders involved in the attacks against the Palestinians.