CAIRO: As negotiations between Palestinian leaders take place in Cairo this weekend, Cairo International Book Fair was the scene of two demonstrations Friday, in solidarity with the people of Gaza.
The first, organized by the Committee for the Lifting of the Siege on Gaza, was held immediately after Friday prayers.
Demonstrators chanted “Resistance is not terrorism, “Bush is the terrorist and “Palestine is Arab.
There were initially some 200 people at the protest, mostly mosque attendees, but this number dwindled because of a heavy security presence which prevented people from joining the demonstration.
Karima El-Hefnawy from the Kefaya opposition movement, told Daily News Egypt that the Committee for the Lifting of the Siege on Gaza was composed of several political forces in Egypt.
“Since the siege of Gaza began all of Egypt’s national political movements – from both the extreme left and right – are fighting together to bring the siege to an end. Israel’s actions in Gaza constitute genocide committed against the Palestinian people, she said.
Protestors held up banners reading “Why is the Egyptian government stopping food caravans reaching Gaza? and “The siege of Gaza is against Egyptian national security.
Speakers called for the Rafah border to be under exclusive Egyptian-Palestinian control, without interference from the Israeli authorities.A second demonstration was held immediately after the first in another location within the book fair.
Some of the slogans chanted at the first demonstration had a religious tone, unlike those at the second demonstration.
When Daily News Egypt asked one of the protest’s organizers why they were staging a separate demonstration, she said they were unaware of the first protest outside the mosque.
Director of the Center for Socialist Studies, Kamal Khalil, said that if they had known of protestors at the first demonstration they would have joined them.
Two large banners were displayed at the second protest, reading: “Long live the Palestinian resistance and “Lift the siege of Gaza.
There was again a large security presence relative to the small number of protestors taking part in the demonstration, but Daily News Egypt did not see anyone prevented from joining the demonstration.
Slogans chanted at this protest called for the expulsion of the Israeli Embassy from Egypt and rejected normalization with Israel.
Khalil told reporters that buses of food and medicine would continue to be sent to Gaza.
“We’re sending buses in coordination with other political parties in order to provide food and medicine to the people of Gaza, Khalil said.
“We call on the Egyptian government to leave the Rafah border open at least so that food and medicine supplies can be brought into Gaza, he continued.