KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – About 100 Malaysian Muslim activists protested Friday outside the US embassy against the coming visit by President Barack Obama, denouncing him as an enemy of Islam.
The demonstration underscored the delicate nature of Obama’s trip to Muslim-majority Malaysia, which will make him the first siting US president to visit in nearly half a century, a period marked by mutual distrust.
The protesters marched to the embassy in Kuala Lumpur from a nearby mosque after Friday afternoon prayers, shouting “God is great” and “Obama is the enemy of the Prophet Muhammad.”
They also bore placards and banners saying: “US is axis of evil” and handed out leaflets saying “Reject Obama, World’s No. 1 Terrorist.”
They dispersed after about 15 minutes.
Malaysia has opposed US wars in the Middle East and supports the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Obama embarks on a week-long Asia tour next week that will bring him to Malaysia April 26-28.
The last US president to visit was Lyndon Johnson in 1966.
US-Malaysia relations have been marked by rancour in recent decades, particularly during the tenure of former authoritarian premier Mahathir Mohamad from 1981-2003, who was harshly critical of US policy around the world.
Current Prime Minister Najib Razak has taken a more friendly tone toward the West, but he is restrained by conservative elements in his Muslim-dominated government.
Obama will also visit South Korea, Japan and the Philippines at a time of unease around the region over China’s rise.