INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Tfle01: Frequent Demonstrations in Cairo Against

Published: Tue 25 Jul 2006 04:10 PM
VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB
DE RUEHEG #4560/01 2061610
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251610Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0128
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS CAIRO 004560
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
NSC FOR MIKE SINGH
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EG
SUBJECT: TFLE01: FREQUENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN CAIRO AGAINST
ISRAELI "AGGRESSION"
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Demonstrations in support of Lebanon and
against Israel have become near daily occurrences in Cairo
since the July 13 Israeli bombing of Beirut,s international
airport. Protests are expected to continue this week, with
the largest anticipated to be a July 26 demonstration in
Cairo,s central Liberation Square, coordinated by Islamists,
leftist groups and NGO activists, to show "solidarity with
the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance." On July 21,
approximately 10,000 Egyptians joined in a peaceful
demonstration at Cairo,s Al Azhar mosque following Friday
prayers, declaring their support for Lebanon and denouncing
recent Israeli military operations in the Levant. Speeches
by Islamist and leftist leaders criticized Egypt,s President
Hosni Mubarak, Jordan,s King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia,s
King Abdullah, in addition to the U.S. and Israel. END
SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Demonstrations in support of Lebanon and against
Israel have become near daily occurrences in Cairo since the
July 13 Israeli bombing of Beirut,s international airport.
Protests are expected to continue this week, with the largest
anticipated to be a July 26 demonstration in Cairo,s central
Liberation Square, organized by the "National Forces for
Palestine and Lebanon", a grouping of Islamists, leftists and
NGO activists, to show "solidarity with the Palestinian and
Lebanese resistance." (Note: July 26 is also the 50th
anniversary of Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal. End
Note.) The demonstration's slogan, already being distributed
via websites, addresses Arab leaders, stating, "Your
Majesties, Your Excellencies ... Spit on You!"
3. (SBU) According to press reports, thousands of Egyptians
rallied at Cairo,s Al Azhar mosque following Friday prayers
on July 21 (press estimates of attendance at the
demonstration range from eight to fifteen thousand.)
Speakers included Mahdy Akef (Supreme Guide of the Muslim
Brotherhood), Abdul Ezz Al Hariry (Tagamau), Abdel Azim
Maghraby (Nasserite Party), Abdel Azziz Mafakhoum (Kefaya
Movement), Salah Abdel Metael (Islamic Labor Party), Sayed
Askar (Al Azhar), Sameh Ashour (Bar Syndicate), and a
representative from the Al Wafd Party. MB Supreme Guide Akef
reportedly described the United States as "the real enemy"
and in subsequent comments to the press said, "today we are
supporting the Palestinian, Lebanese and Iraqi resistance and
every resistance against Zionist, American and European
arrogance." Other speakers condemned the U.S. for allegedly
condoning Israeli violence in both Lebanon and Gaza. Others
criticized President Mubarak for his censuring of Hezbollah
and denounced him as a U.S. agent. King Abdullah II of
Jordan and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah were also criticized
for "not supporting their Muslim brothers."
4. (SBU) Some press reports noted that fights between
protestors and police followed the rally, breaking out at one
of the gates of Al Azhar. Protestors reportedly tried to
break through a police cordon onto the street, but
plainclothes police blocked their way, and fistfights broke
out. According to Embassy contacts, the disturbances were
minor and erupted when MB Supreme Guide Akef was leaving Al
Azhar with his guards, who tried to push through the police
security line, thereby prompting a fight. In either case,
five of the demonstrators were injured, as was one policeman,
but no arrests were made.
5. (SBU) Smaller demonstrations were held on July 21 at the
El Nour mosque in Cairo,s Abassya district and at the Ahmer
Ibn Al Az mosque in the Old Cairo district. Groups of
demonstrators elsewhere in the city were reportedly not
exclusively Muslim, but also included significant numbers of
Copts. Some Christians told reporters that they were
demonstrating on behalf of the "Lebanese victims" and that it
was their duty to support their fellow Arabs, but emphasized
that they did not support Hezbollah,s attacks against
Israel. Also on July 21, another 3,000 demonstrated in
Alexandria "in solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinians"
in a number of mosques following Friday prayers. The Kefaya
movement also organized a small demonstration in the Al Raml
district of Alexandria.
6. (SBU) There have been a number of other similar rallies
held since Israeli military operations in Lebanon began. On
July 19, a small group of demonstrators in central Cairo
waved Hezbollah flags and held up pictures of Hezbollah
leader Hassan Nasrallah and former Egyptian President (and
icon of pan-Arab nationalism) Gamal Abdel Nasser. On July
16, a peaceful "Support Lebanon and Palestine" demonstration
in front of Cairo,s Arab Physicians' Syndicate turned into
an angry anti-Israel rally. The demonstration, which was
called for via e-mails, SMS and newspapers, was organized by
the Egyptian Physicians' Syndicate with the participation of
Kefaya, Youth for Change, the Egyptian Committee for
Combatting Imperialism and Zionism, the Muslim Brotherhood,
Al Karama (Dignity Party), and the Pan Arabist Nasserite
movement. Press reports indicate approximately 100 Egyptians
participated. Also on July 16, the Egyptian Bar Association
organized a demonstration calling on Egyptians to undertake
jihad in Lebanon and Palestine. Demonstrators held up images
of Nasrallah and Nasser. Following Friday prayers on July
14, five thousand Egyptians gathered at Al Azhar mosque,
shouting slogans in support of the Lebanese and Palestinian
resistance, according to press sources. On the same day, the
Kefaya movement organized a demonstration in front of
Cairo,s Al Tawfiqiya mosque, but police broke up the
protest. Also on July 14, the Muslim Brotherhood organized
demonstrations across Egypt. According to press reports,
thousands demonstrated in the Delta governorates of Daqahliya
and Damietta, calling for fund-raising on behalf of
Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.
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