CAIRO: As the bombing of Gaza continued for the third day on Monday, mass demonstrations were held in Cairo against Israel’s actions.
Large protests were held Sunday and Monday after the noon prayers.
Two protests were staged outside the entrance to the People’s Assembly on Sunday. Around 150 people surrounded by security forces listened as Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members of the People’s Assembly condemned what they described as Egypt’s “complicity in the killing of hundreds of Palestinians in the neighboring Gaza Strip.
MB member Mohamed El-Beltagy told protestors that on Saturday the group presented a list of 10 demands to the government.
These demands included an immediate cessation of gas exports to Israel, the opening of the Rafah crossing, the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Egypt and a freezing of Egyptian-Israeli diplomatic relations.
While it had initially been announced that protestors would march from the PA to Abdeen in Downtown Cairo, at approximately 1 pm some 700 protestors who had congregated at the end of the street housing the PA (and who had been prevented from joining the 150 outside the PA gates by a security cordon) marched to the Doctors’ Syndicate, a 10-minute walk away, where doctors were staging another protest.
The march from the PA to the Doctors’ Syndicate was conducted in silence. When Daily News Egypt asked one of the marchers why they had stopped chanting, he said that the MB and security forces had come to an agreement that the march would be carried out in silence.
There was a minimal security presence during the extremely orderly march other than a handful of plain-clothed police officers at its head who directed protestors as to which route to take.
Marchers were greeted by the approximately 1,500 demonstrators outside the Doctors’ Syndicate with chants of ‘Allahu akbar.’
Demonstrators held up copies of the Quran, as well as copies of independent dailies Al-Badeel and Al-Dostour which showed images of the destruction in Gaza alongside pictures of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak shaking hands with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
While demonstrators were kept penned within the boundary of the Doctors’ Syndicate, passers-by were allowed to gather on the opposite pavement, which was unusual given security bodies’ usual approach of tightly containing protests.
Both Sunday’s and Monday’s protest – held outside the Journalists’ Syndicate – centred exclusively on events in Gaza.
On Monday between 4,000-5,000 demonstrators carrying Hamas flags chanted “We are all Hamas, “Mohamed’s army is coming and “Don’t put down your gun, Haniyeh.
As on Sunday, protestors who initiated chants of “down with Hosni Mubarak were silenced by other demonstrators.
Chants were on occasion led by individuals standing outside the security barriers containing the demonstrators.
These individuals were given free range of movement in the space between the demonstrators on each side of the road by security personnel while some journalists and photographers, including Daily News Egypt, were not given access to this area.
The religious nature of the chants initiated by these individuals, the composition of the demonstration and its noticeable segregation along gender lines indicate that the protest was organized and managed by the Muslim Brotherhood.