At least 80 people turned out, at very short notice, for an emergency Egypt solidarity rally in the centre of Newcastle today.
A number of Egyptians living in Newcastle, along with socialists and anti-war campaigners, addressed a mixed crowd which included a loud and lively Egyptian contingent
The rally was part of the international day of solidarity with the continuing revolutionary movement in Egypt. Earlier in the afternoon around 300 people had attended an anti-cuts rally organised by Northern Region TUC.
Rana Salem, a young graduate of Alexandria University, explained the emergence of the remarkable popular movement in recent weeks. She spoke of both the authoritarianism of Mubrak's regime and the economic problems - unemployment, insecurity, poverty - driving the revolt. She said of the Egyptian people, "they really are making history - it's not just a saying".
Hassan Ebeid, also from Egypt, called on supporters to pressure our own politicians and demand they break from Mubarak.
Alex Snowdon, for Tyneside Stop the War (which organised the rally), said: "The US and UK have backed the Mubarak regime for many years. It fights with American weapons. Egypt is the second biggest US ally in the region after Israel. The politicians and generals in Washington are terrified - and so they should be."
Mahmoud Kurdi, a longstanding local anti-war activist, said: "Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips tried to scare us on Question Time, saying revolution will bring a backward Islamist regime. Some people want to create fear in this way, but it is the people's revolution and we should stand up for the people in Egypt". Socialist activist Elaine Brunskill urged solidarity for a movement that continues to deepen its revolution and which needs international solidarity.
An Egyptian woman read out the names of some of those killed in the attempted bloody counter-revolution, with their ages, occupations and how they had died. This was followed by a minute's silence for all those killed by the security forces and Mubarak's hired thugs.
There were Egyptian flags, numerous homemade placards and chants of "People of Egypt, we're with you" and "Yascot, yascot [down, down] Hosni Mubarak!" An Arabic poem denouncing tyranny and the message on supporting the Egyptian uprising from the Cairo Conference were both read aloud.
A number of speakers referred to Tunisia's revolution too and noted the spread of popular revolt across Yemen, Jordan, Algeria and beyond.
A range of speakers pledged to continue building the solidarity camapign. A Stop the War Coalition pubic meeting was announced for this Monday (7 February). It is at Muslim Welfare House, 6 North Terrace, Newcastle, at 7.30pm.
Speakers at Monday's meeting - Revolution in Egypt: imperialism, resistance and the Middle East - are Rana Salem, Alex Snowdon (Tyneside Stop the War), Hassan Ebeid and Mahmoud Kurdi (Muslim Welfare House).
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