In Solidarity with Egypt, Fifty Gather in Bethlehem’s Nativity Square

PNN – Palestine News Network – 05.02.11 – 16:07

Bethlehem – PNN – As Egypt entered its twelfth day of unprecedented protests against President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinians gathered in solidarity in Bethlehem’s Nativity Square, chanting “March, march, Arab peoples, for change.”

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A police officer confronts Dr. Qumsiyeh (PNN Images).

The protest was organized by human rights activist Dr. Mazen Qumsiyeh, author of the book “Popular Struggle in Palestine,” and coincided with others in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Gaza. After between 50 and 60 protesters had gathered, flying Egyptian and Palestinian flags in Nativity Square—typically crowded only around Christmas—the group marched toward the marketplace, only to be stopped by local police.

“The people in power are trying to stem the tide, they’re trying to go against the inevitable,” said Qumsiyeh. “It’s unfortunate that they stopped us from marching. It is our right to freedom of expression, marching in our own town. We were going to go to the marketplace, but they said, ‘No, you don’t have permission to go to the marketplace.’”

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Protesters gather in Manger Square (PNN Images).

The rainy weather and the police restriction meant that the protest wrapped up in just over a half an hour, in which organizers called for Arab unity, the end of autocracy, and a representative opposition to Israel and Zionism. Protesters chanted “From Tunisia to Palestine” and speakers extolled that change was coming to the Middle East.

“This is the Egypt of [Gamal] Abdul Nasser, the Egypt of October [Revolution], of all the groups in the past and all those to come,” said one protester, who called for the abandonment of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. “It is impossible to liberate the region without Egypt. It is the tip of the spear in our fight against the Zionist entity.”

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A protester waves an Egyptian flag in Manger Square (PNN Images).

Similar demonstrations in Ramallh were shut down on Sunday and Thursday. On Thursday, Human Rights Watch issued a statement to the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) that it must let them go on.

“The Palestinian Authority should immediately make clear that its ‘state-building’ training of security forces does not include beating peaceful demonstrators,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director.

PNN – Palestine News Network – In Solidarity with Egypt, Fifty Gather in Bethlehem’s Nativity Square.

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