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Hundreds of Egyptians join pro-Palestinian rally organised by government

Cairo: Hundreds of Egyptians gathered Friday afternoon in Cairo as part of a pro-Palestinian rally organised by the Egyptian government.

The crowd, mostly young men, gathered near the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier in the Egyptian capital waving Palestinian flags.

Friday is a day of prayer in the Middle East, and the Cairo rally featured a group prayer for the Gaza Strip. “May God protect Gaza,” a sheikh said, as hundreds of men on makeshift prayer rugs — Palestinian flags and kaffiyehs, Egyptian flags, protest signs — bowed their heads.

Though Egyptians overwhelmingly support Palestinians and have expressed spontaneous outrage at Israel’s brutal violence in Gaza, the protest clearly served the political aims of the Egyptian government, which organised the rally.

Egypt has rejected the idea of Palestinians in Gaza being displaced into the country, both as a matter of principle and because it would present economic and security headaches.

The largest banners at the protest read “No to displacement of Palestinians,” “Egyptian national security is a red line,” and “We support the decision of political leadership to keep the homeland safe.”

The protest thus doubled as a rally to support the Egyptian government, which has otherwise faced plummeting popularity amid an ongoing economic crisis. “We’ve delegated him; we’ve delegated him; all of the people are behind you, Sissi,” protesters chanted, referring to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. “Oh Palestine, oh Palestine, we’re with you in billions.”

(Published 21 October 2023, 04:42 IST)

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