Thousands across Egypt demand gov't to open border

Five members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood were detained when they tried to protest outside downtown Cairo's al-Azhar mosque.

Thousands across Egypt demand gov't to open border

Egyptian police attacked demonstrators who demanded Egypt to open Rafah border crossing in the Sinai peninsula on Friday, security sources and witnesses said.

Thousands demonstrated in other Egyptian cities after Friday prayers, demanding Egypt open its border with Gaza to help supply food and medicine, but protests were dispersed by police.

Five members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood were detained when they tried to protest outside downtown Cairo's al-Azhar mosque, a major seat of Sunni learning, security sources who did not give their names told Reuters.

About 1,500 protesters outside the Rafae mosque in the coastal city of El Arish threw stones at police trying to stop the demonstration, injuring three. Police beat demonstrators with batons. Some demanded Egypt expel Israel's ambassador.

Demonstrators in downtown Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast, shouted slogans against Israel and in support of Hamas.

"We are very angry about the dead people, the women, and the children, in Gaza," said Hassan Ismail, 40. "We are asking the Egyptian government to open the Rafah border crossing and we are asking that food and supplies as well as weapons be sent to Hamas."

Some held up fake rockets in a show of support for Hamas.

Medical officials say the Palestinian death toll is nearly 800, more than a third children. Ten Israeli soldiers have been killed and Palestinian rockets have killed three Israeli civilians.

Israel pushed on with the offensive on Friday, ignoring the U.N. Security Council's call for an immediate ceasefire.

Egyptian protesters temporarily blocked a bridge over Egypt's Suez Canal after security forces refused to let them cross over toward the border with Gaza.

"We are a people's convoy demanding that the Egyptian government open the border," said Salma Said, 23.

She said the group of about 100 protesters, including French, English, and Americans, were later allowed to continue towards Rafah, where they hoped to demonstrate.

The Egyptian government says opening its Rafah crossing fully without the presence of the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza would give legitimacy to Hamas' rule in Gaza.

In the Nile Delta town of Tanta, Egyptian police broke up a 1,500 strong protest after prayers, security sources said.

Reuters
Last Mod: 10 Ocak 2009, 13:17
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