Thousands of Arabs Show Support For Arafat
Thousands of Arabs defying bans on demonstrations took to the streets Saturday for a second straight day, in support of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during his standoff with Israeli troops in the West Bank.
More than 50,000 people demonstrated across Egypt despite a longstanding state of emergency which bans protests, although authorities generally tolerate rallies on university campuses.
In Cairo, riot police were deployed outside the Islamic University of Al-Azhar, Cairo University and the bar association to prevent thousands of demonstrators from spilling into the streets, witnesses said.
Some 5,000 students still tried to stampede their way off the Cairo University campus and head for the nearby Israeli embassy. Police lobbed tear-gas after students hurled rocks, AFP reported.
At the bar association, 5,000 lawyers demonstrated and two journalists were beaten by police, one lawyer told AFP. About 15,000 students also demonstrated in the coastal city of Alexandria, shouting "Where are the Arab leaders?"
Anger also gripped Jordan's largest refugee camp, Baqaa, where 2,000 people marched inside the compound on the outskirts of Amman, denouncing the siege of Arafat and torching Israeli flags.
Riot police were absent from the protest unlike the previous day when they deployed in force around the Baqaa and Wihdat camp and clashed with stone-throwing protesters and fired tear gas at them.
In Beirut, 3,000 Lebanese and Palestinians demonstrated in front of the UN headquarters, calling for international protection for the Palestinians and were joined by several prominent politicians.
Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi was among the protesters. Many gunmen were among 5,000 people who marched in the streets of Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain el-Helwe, chanting: "We're ready to die for you Abu Ammar," referring to Arafat's nickname.
In Libya, more than 10,000 people gathered outside the Palestine Authority offices in Tripoli and issued a statement calling for a new summit to scrap the Middle East peace initiative endorsed by Arab leaders in Beirut on Thursday.
In Bahrain, some 3,500 protesters raised Palestinian flags as well as flags of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah movement as they marched in Manama. Protestors called for the abrogation of Arab peace treaties with Israel and slammed the United States, which has its Fifth Fleet based in the country. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)