Thursday,20 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Thursday,20 June, 2019
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

Together to the Strip

Public solidarity with Gazans as they face continued attacks from Israel have taken various forms, reports Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

Friday prayers at Al-Azhar Mosque were followed by a demonstration of public anger at Israeli air strikes against Gaza, with thousands of protesters demanding Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Israel.
Youssef Al-Qaradawi, head of the World Federation of Muslim Scholars, preached the Friday sermon. His attendance at the mosque stirred mixed reactions among Al-Azhar scholars. While some praised Al-Qaradawi’s presence after years of being effectively banned, others interpreted it as the opening shot in a campaign to replace the current grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, with a Muslim Brotherhood supporter.  
Following Al-Qaradawi’s sermon a crowd marched to Tahrir Square to demonstrate their solidarity with Gaza.
“With our blood and souls, we sacrifice everything for you, Palestine,” chanted protesters. “Arm us, arm us and send us to Gaza.”
Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Al-Beltagui, Salafist preacher Safwat Hegazi and deputy chairman of the Wasat Party Essam Sultan took part in the protest.
“The recent round of attacks has revived memories of Israel’s 2008/09 assault on the Gaza Strip in which 1,500 Palestinians were killed — the vast majority of them civilians — and thousands more injured,” one protester told Al-Ahram Weekly. “The Arab world has to end diplomatic ties with Israel.”
In Alexandria crowds demonstrated before the Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque following Friday prayers. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Alexandria office released a statement in support of President Mohamed Morsi’s decision to withdraw the Egyptian ambassador from Israel.
In Qalioubiya governorate the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and other political groups staged demonstrations in a number of town squares. Participants raised Palestinian flags and chanted anti-Israeli slogans. Hundreds attended a protest organised by the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, and by Salafist groups.
In Aswan a Muslim Brotherhood protest mustered hundreds of demonstrators who demanded Egypt open its border with Gaza to allow the entry of aid. In Assiut small crowds, with a heavy Islamist presence, chanted “Salute from Assiut to Gaza and to Al-Qassam Brigades” — referring to Hamas’s armed wing.
A day earlier hundreds of protesters had gathered in front of the Arab League headquarters, less than one kilometre away from Tahrir Square to demand an immediate halt to the Israeli attacks. Members of civil parties and groups were among the main participants. The 6 April Youth Movement’s Ahmed Maher Front, the Egyptian Popular Current, the Strong Egypt Party, the Ghad Al-Thawra Party and the Misr Al-Horreya Party were all present.
On 12 November, dozens of leftist protesters gathered in Downtown’s Talaat Harb Square to denounce the attacks. “No to the vicious aggression on Gaza,” read a banner held by one of the protesters. Another held a sign with a quote by Gamal Abdel-Nasser: “Our struggle against the Zionists is a conflict of existence, not of borders.”
Early last week 10 political parties and movements — the Egyptian Popular Current, the National Front for Justice and Democracy, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Popular Committees for the Protection of the Revolution, the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces, the National Assembly for Change, the Free Egyptian Movement, the Free Egyptians Party, the Free Front for Peaceful Change and Kifaya — signed a statement calling upon President Mohamed Morsi to expel Israel’s ambassador to Egypt.
The statement linked the attack on Gaza with tensions in Sinai, accusing Israeli intelligence of stirring problems in the peninsula and the Egyptian government of mismanaging Sinai security.
Representatives of political parties and revolutionary groups were joined by independent activists in a convoy that set off for Gaza on Sunday. Departing the Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo, the convoy headed to Rafah before crossing into the besieged Strip. The aim, according to a statement issued by the convoy’s organisers on Saturday, was to meet with representatives of resistance factions and other Palestinian organisations.
“We reaffirm our rejection of the official Arab and the Egyptian responses [to the Gaza attacks]. The measures taken by the Egyptian regime do not meet the minimum of our demands. After the blood that has been shed it is shameful that the QIZ agreement continues, as does security coordination in Sinai between Egypt, Israel and the United States,” said the statement.
The 400-member convoy included members of the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Constitution Party, the Popular Current, the Strong Egypt and Egyptian Current parties, the Arab Nasserist Party, Youth for Justice and Freedom Movement, the National Front for Justice and Democracy and the Revolutionary Socialists. Besides, the convoy included activists and public figures such as blogger Nawara Negm, poet Tamim Al-Barghouti and activist Ahmed Douma.
The Egyptian authorities have granted permission to the convoy to make the crossing only with their National ID cards.
They arrived in Gaza Sunday at midnight, visiting Al-Shifa Hospital, where they helped receive Gaza residents wounded during the Israeli attacks on the strip. The Palestinian health minister welcomed the convoy that returned on Monday, expressing gratitude for their visit.
The convoy also visited Hamas government buildings that were hit by Israel, as well as the home of one of the victims.
Protests were not the only expression of solidarity. The doctors and the pharmacists syndicates both opened their doors for donations. The FJP called on members of different political currents to join a delegation, led by FJP Chairman Saad Al-Katatni, that was due to pay a one-day visit to the Gaza Strip on 19 November
The 6 April Youth Movement announced “a fundraising campaign to support the residents of the Gaza Strip”. The FJP and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya likewise said they were beginning fund raising drives.
Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh — former presidential candidate, secretary-general of the Arab Doctors Union and the founder of the Strong Egypt Party — told reporters during his visit to Gaza at the head of a medical convoy that Egypt will never accept such aggression directed at Palestinians.
“I cannot but demand that the Rafah crossing be fully opened so medicines, food and equipment can be moved,” Abul-Fotouh said.
“Large numbers of vehicles with aid, food and medicine are currently being kept waiting despite President Morsi saying the crossing is open.”
The convoy comprised 18 cars loaded with medical supplies, 20 doctors and seven pharmacists. The former presidential candidate stressed that opening the crossing must remain an Egyptian and Palestinian decision.

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