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Pro-Palestinian Protests Grow in Egypt - 2002-04-02

Several American businesses in Cairo have been destroyed by pro-Palestinian students demonstrating in Egypt. Analysts say such protests will likely gain the attention of the government.

Student demonstrations in Egypt are growing louder and more violent.

Thousands of Egyptian police, wearing riot gear, surrounded Cairo University Tuesday following pro-Palestinian demonstrations that resulted in the destruction of several American businesses located across the street from the university.

Hassan Nafae is the head of the political science department at Cairo University. "It is really getting dangerous, more dangerous, everywhere in all the cities where there are university campuses," he said. "There are a lot of troubles and I think the Egyptian government has some difficulty containing the people."

Students are demanding President Hosni Mubarak take action in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by mobilizing Arab troops to fight against Israel, allow citizens to travel to the occupied territories to fight on behalf of the Palestinians, expel the Israeli ambassador to Egypt and end all diplomatic relations with Israel and send medical teams to the occupied territories to help injured Palestinians.

Haba Amr is a student at Cairo University. "We are sending a message to the people of Palestine that we are with them, and we refuse what's happening there, and we wish we would reach to them there and fight with them, really," she said.

Ahmed Ahwed says students want to do whatever they can to help the Palestinians. "We want to support the Intifada with money, with weapons," he said. "We want to do anything, anything, for the Intifada and we want Egyptian leaders to support the Intifada."

Demonstrations have been taking place on university campuses in much of the Arab world ever since Israeli troops and tanks surrounded the office of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat late last week.

According to Mohammad Kamal, who teaches political science at Cairo University, student demonstrations do attract the attention of the government. "It will be a trigger to all kinds of other issues because people are not frustrated only with the Israeli-Arab conflict but with other issues and the government tolerates some kind of demonstrations for the Arab-Israeli issue but you can't prevent people from talking, shouting and complaining about other domestic issues that they care about," said Mohammad Kamal.

Whether Egypt's President Mubarak is listening to the students is unknown. So far he has publicly remained relatively quiet while impatient, youthful, students increasingly express their anger.