Pro-Palestinian protesters in Cairo 311 (R).
(photo credit: Nasser Nuri / Reuters)
In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city,
thousands marched to the Israeli consulate after dawn prayers at one of
the city's main mosques, chanting: "With our souls, with our blood, we
redeem you Palestine."
"We are here today to show our support for the Palestinian cause," said
Mohammed Abdel-Salam, a 22-year-old activist on Friday. "The victory of our
revolution will not be complete without the liberation of Palestine," he
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of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday to push their military
rulers to do more to help Palestinians following the overthrow of the
country's president Hosni Mubarak.
Many Egyptians felt Mubarak, a
US ally, was too soft on Israel and want their new government to take a
much stronger pro-Palestinian stand.
The gatherings in Cairo,
Alexandria and El-Arish come amidst preparations by activists to
organize a march to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, May 15 -- which
Palestinians mark as the anniversary of their 1948 displacement
following the establishment of Israel.
Egyptian authorities have banned the march, saying the timing was inappropriate given sectarian tensions in Egypt.
The government deployed army and police to prevent demonstrators from
crossing the Suez Canal to Sinai -- the route they would have to take to
reach the Gaza Strip, witnesses said.
"We are demonstrating to show that the Palestinian cause is in the heart
of all Muslims," said Sameh Abu Bakr, an agriculture engineer, in
Cairo's Tahrir Square, which was decked with red, white, black and green
The square was at the epicenter of the February uprising that drove Mubarak from power.
One sign read: "The people want the opening of the Rafah crossing, fully and permanently."
Egypt has said it plans to open the crossing into Gaza permanently, but
has yet to do so. Mubarak was accused of participating in an Israeli
blockade on Gaza by shutting the border.
"We want to show the world the inhumane way Israel treats Palestinians,"
said demonstrator Hassan Yusri, standing next to the Rafah sign.
Hundreds marched in El-Arish in Sinai after Friday prayers, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans.
The official MENA news agency quoted Mustafa Reda Amin, the
secretary-general of a youth alliance that helped oust Mubarak, saying
organizers contracted 20 buses to take demonstrators to Sinai.
One Egyptian security source said the authorities had decided to
restrict entry to Sinai to commercial trucks and residents of the Sinai
Peninsula and stepped up security on all access points to Sinai.
"We want to prevent large numbers of people from entering Sinai for the day of the Great March," one source said.
Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with
Israel. The ruling military council has pledged to honor the peace