Police arrests 35 at Gaza war protest

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CAIRO: Egyptian police arrested 35 people including four journalists at a downtown Cairo protest against Israel s war in Gaza on Saturday, a security official said.

Anti-riot police were deployed in strength to deal with the protest by around 1,000 people, mostly members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group, the official said, asking not to be named.

The group, of which Hamas is an offshoot, said on their website that around 2,000 people attended the protest.

Hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been rounded up in recent weeks while trying to protest the Israeli onslaught in Gaza.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called on the authorities to allow expressions of popular anger through demonstrations.

On Friday, almost 30,000 people took to the streets of Egyptian towns and cities to protest the Israeli assault on Gaza, far fewer than in previous weeks, a security official said.

Fearing a new day of anger after Friday prayers, Egyptian authorities had deployed police reinforcements in Cairo and elsewhere.

The largest protest was in the northeast town of Mansoura where 6,000 people turned out, while 5,000 demonstrators gathered in central Fayoum and 3,000 in Aswan in the south, calling for a end to the Israeli onslaught, the official said.

In Cairo, several hundred people gathered in the Bassatin district before being dispersed by police. And almost 200 people demonstrated inside the compound of the Al-Azhar mosque, surrounded by a police cordon.

Egypt s main opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood contested the figures. It said on its website that 20,000 people protested in Mansoura and 15,000 in Fayoum.

The turnout was nevertheless below that of previous weeks.

On Jan. 9, at least 50,000 people marched in the northern city of Alexandria to condemn the complicity of some Arab governments in the Israeli blockade of Gaza. – AFP

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