Hundreds of peace activists from forty two countries, in confrontation with the Egyptian police of in the center of Cairo.
Hundreds of peace activists from all over the world are engaged in a prolonged confrontation with the Egyptian police at Tahrir Square that in the heart Cairo, protest the government of Egypt’s decision to prevent them from entering the Gaza Strip. Some 1400 activists had arrived from forty two countries all over the world, intending to arrive at the Gaza Strip and to hold a protest parade towards the Erez Checkpoint, together with Palestinian residents, and demand the lifting of the siege which is causing grave daily suffering to the million and half inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. However, the government of Israel applied heavy pressure on the Egyptians to prevent the activists’ entry into the Strip. Finally, only one hundred of them were allowed to cross the border, who did participate in a demonstration opposite Erez Checkpoint, simultaneously with the rally held on the Israeli side.
The activists who were forced to remain in Cairo were indignant at the government of Egypt, and continued to demand to be allowed to get the Gaza Strip and hold the “Gaza Freedom March” for which they had come, at their own expense, from all over the world. . This morning Egyptian policemen besieged the Lotus Hotel in Cairo, where many of the activists are staying, preventing them from going out to the streets of Cairo and demonstrating. However, many of the international activists succeeded in avoiding the police and mingle with the stream of tourists arriving at the Egyptian National Museum on Tahrir Square.
Suddenly, hundreds of them took off their shirts, revealing t-shirts bearing the slogan “Freedom to Gaza – Remove the Siege!” and blocked for half an hour the traffic in the central streets of Cairo. Also after the police pushed them to the sidewalk they continued to demonstrate, raising signs, reading “We Shall Overcome” and chanting “Free Gaza!”, while surrounded on all sides by hundreds of police.
The whole affair causes considerable embarrassment to the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, who feels unable to use against European and American activists the level of violence often used by the Egyptian police in dispersing demonstrations. Moreover, the president is at the same time also strongly criticized by the opposition in the Egyptian Parliament, as well as by influentual Moslem sages, for authorizing the construction of “The Underground Steel Wall”, designed to block the tunnels in Egypt’s border with Gaza.
Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, says that the Netanyahu Government was in grave error in pressuring the Egyptians to prevent the entry of international peace activists into the Gaza Strip. Instead of regarding the peace between Israel and Egypt as a major asset, to be used as a bridge in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians and to the entire Arab World, the government pressured President Mubarak to adopt an unpopular policy which harms him and makes Israel’s “Cold Peace” with Egypt even colder. That is a highly short-sighted policy”.
“By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity.” Robert A. Heinlein
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK