Egypt: Fresh protests rock Cairo, huge march planned

May 25, 2011
Coptic Christians protest against attacks.
Coptic Christians protest against attacks. Photo by Elizabeth Pickworth.

The streets of Cairo have been the frontier for a range of demonstrations over the past two weeks.

A Day of National Unity between Christians and Muslims was held on May 13. More than 200,000 people lined the streets of downtown Cairo to celebrate.

Egypt has previously been home to harmonious relations between Christians and Muslims. However, sectarian tensions have been increasing – spurred by the burning of two Coptic Christian churches by Salafist groups on May 6.

In the evening of May 13, demonstrators marched to the Israeli Embassy to protest the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Israeli troops outside the embassy fired warning shots above the protesters. But their efforts in intimidating the protesters failed, with most continuing their protest.

Demonstrators protests again on May 15 for the “Third Palestinian Intifada” rally. The day marked the anniversary of what is known Palestinians as “Nakba” day ( a day of “catastrophe” that marks the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their home and land in 1948).

Thousands of Egyptians and Palestinians march the streets from Tahrir Square to the Israeli Embassy in Giza chanting slogans like “Free Palestine. Fall down Israel” as they burned the Israeli flag.

Protesters hauled rocks at the police during the violent clash in the early hours of the morning of Monday 16 May, the police retaliated by opening fire at the protesters using live ammunition and tear gas injuring over 350, with one protester shot in the stomach and another in the head.

The rally in Cairo was arranged on Facebook by activists keen to see a change in Israeli/Egyptian relations and the ousting of the Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon.

Mohammed Ahmed, a member of the third Palestine Intifada group, said: “We want people all across the world, not just Egypt know that this is not a protest against religions, it’s not a war against the Muslims or Jews. This is a battle for land, recognition and freedom for the Palestine people.

“If we fight a war against religion this would spell the end of humanity, and the end of the world. Egypt has seen a revolution, now it’s Palestine’s turn.”

A new “Day of Rage” is being organised on Facebook for May 27 – much the same way as the January 25 demonstrations that sparked the mass movement that brought down dictator Hosni Mubrak were called.

The second round of revolutionary demonstrations are set to be the “awakening” or “second coming” of the Egyptian youth who seek to postpone the elections. The elections, scheduled for September, will be run by the interim military regime.

Afraid that early elections will enable forces ties to the Mubarak or other established parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood to dominate, the May 27 protests will hope to stall elections to enable more choice to the people of Egypt.

Cairo is a scene of chaos. Citizen's are fed up and want real change.

If the huge protests on Cairo's streets so far in May are an indication, expect mass demonstrations involving many thousands. A million-person march to Tahrir Square on May 27 is possible.

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