UK rally celebrates Egypt uprising

Activists and nationals from around Middle East gather in London in solidarity with regional protests.

    Orginially planned as an anti-Mubarak protest, the demonstration became a victory celebration [AFP]

    At least 1,000 demonstrators, among them activists from countries across North Africa, have staged a rally in London to celebrate the fall of Egypt's president and push for further anti-government protests in the Middle East.

    The event, held on Saturday, was originally organised as part of a wave of protests calling on Hosni Mubarak to step down, but became a victory celebration after the Egyptian president handed power to the military a day earlier.

    Laurence Lee, Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from the rally in Trafalgar Square in London, said the mood was jubilant.

    "It's a mixture of celebration at what's happened at Egypt and protests from people whose countries, they say, are still unfree," he said.

    Police said about 1,000 people attended. Organisers put the figure at 4,000.

    The rally brought together activists and nationals from around the Middle East who have been closely watching the protests in Egypt and in their own countries.

    One banner at the rally had a picture of Mubarak wearing the hat of a pharaoh, the rulers of ancient Egypt, and the slogan: "You're historic."

    Others banners at the rally read: "Free Palestine" and "End the siege of Gaza".

    'Beautiful demonstrations'

    Many of those present at the London rally had participated in the events in their home countries either online through social networks, or directly by joining protesters in the streets. 

    "We all feel all together in this. I think Arab patriotism and nationalism has come back," Sarah el-Rashidi, an Egyptian activist at the rally, told Al Jazeera.

    During Egypt's uprising, she and several others set up the New Egypt Organisation, a group that lobbied the president's office and participated in the events through social media, including Twitter.

    Asked what she thought about Western rhetoric that change in Egypt would need to be "managed", she said: "The world has seen Egyptians stage these wonderful, beautiful demonstrations - peaceful, non-violent ... they can handle this transition."

    Amira Ben-Gacem, a Tunisian activist, had been in her home country during the uprising there last month which saw Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's president for 23 years, flee the country.

    "When Ben Ali left on the 14th of January, that's when everything started - Tunisa was reborn on that day," she told Al Jazeera.

    'More freedom'

    The ousting of Ben Ali and the forcing aside of Mubarak have inspired activists around the region, and on Saturday the focus began to shift to Algeria where police cracked down on thousands of protesters gathered in the capital.

    At the rally in London, Latifa Abid, an Algerian refugee and student in the UK, said that a revolution was possible in her country too.

    "I want to call on Algerian women, to remind them that Algerian women were once a model to fight for freedom. I'm calling the trade unions [too] ... they were crucial in the war against France and they are still crucial," she told Al Jazeera.

    "Algeria deserves less corruption and more freedom!"

    Amnesty International, the London-based rights monitor, which organised the demonstration along with a number of other groups, said the rally was as part of a Global Day of Action.

    Hundreds of people also took to the streets in Sydney, Washington, Madrid and other countries to rejoice as downtown Cairo remained in the hands of demonstrators whose 18-day revolt ended Mubarak's 30-year rule.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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