Saturday, January 10, 2009

Egyptians spearhead Gaza solidarity rallies

The Morning Star, Jan 10, 2009

Protesters in Alexandria.

STANDING WITH PALESTINE: Protesters in Alexandria.

OVER 50,000 Egyptians rallied in Alexandria in solidarity with the people of Gaza after Friday prayers on Friday.

They joined hundreds of thousands across the globe in rallying against the Israeli offensive.

The protesters berated President Hosni Mubarak for not lifting its border with the beleaguered Gaza Strip, chanting: “Shame on Egypt” and “Gaza excuse us.”

Mr Mubarak’s refusal to open the Rafah crossing is widely seen as abetting Israel’s siege of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents.

In the coastal city of el-Arish, the closest city to the border, protesters clashed with police. At least 10 people were injured.

In Amman, Jordan, more than 5,000 people took to the streets to show their support for the Palestinians and call for the Israeli embassy to be closed.

In Baghdad, thousands of Sunni and Shi’ite worshippers united for noisy rallies after Friday prayers.

In Syria, over 3,000 people marched in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus.

They carried a big poster of a rocket with the words: “This is our role model” written in Arabic.

At the al-Mourabit mosque in a neighbourhood of old Damascus, worshippers trampled on Israeli and US flags that had been placed at the entrance.

Thousands of Algerians rallied in Algiers in a show of support for Gaza despite a government ban.

Hundreds of riot police blocked the marchers from getting to the city centre and made several arrests.

Many of the marchers wore Palestinian headscarves and chanted: “USA terrorists.”

Around 40,000 marched through Oslo on Thursday calling for an end to Tel Aviv’s massacre in Gaza.

Police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of youngsters who clashed with a separate 500-strong pro-Israel demonstration.

No serious injuries were reported. Police said that one officer had been treated for cuts to his face and that at least 27 protesters had been detained.

There were also peaceful marches by thousands in other Norwegian cities.

The rallies were jointly organised by about 80 organisations as diverse as the Norwegian Red Cross, Amnesty International Norway, Save the Children and the Norwegian Sports Federation.

In the Dutch city of Utrecht, around 400 youngsters held a noisy protest in the city centre on Thursday, waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans.

Police arrested six people for threatening behaviour and refusing to follow police orders.

And US police arrested four peace activists who occupied the Israeli consulate in Boston on Thursday.

About 40 people gathered at the building before forcing their way into the lobby.

Police officers told the group that they would have a few minutes to protest and would then have to leave.

They then detained four people who lay down on the floor of the lobby.

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