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Thousands Protest Possible Iraq War in Cairo - 2003-02-27

An estimated 140,000 people rallied in a Cairo sports stadium to protest a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq.

The football stadium was filled to capacity with 100,000 protesters. Another 40,000 demonstrators, who could not get in, gathered outside. It was one of the largest demonstrations in Egypt.

The protesters chanted slogans of support for Iraq and condemned what they called American aggression.

The demonstration was organized by a group of opposition parties and trade unions. While demonstrations have largely been banned in Egypt since emergency laws went into effect in 1981, officials have allowed protests to take place on college campuses, in mosques and in sports stadiums.

Wednesday, interior ministry officials announced that no demonstration would be allowed to disrupt the flow of traffic, and said security forces would arrest any protestor engaged in violence or the use of what the officials called, "bad language."

But Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party hopes to draw as many as 1.5 million people to a march planned for sometime next week.

Egypt is to host a summit of Arab states to discuss the Iraq crisis beginning Saturday in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.