RAMALLAH, Feb. 5 (JMCC) - Tens of Fateh
supporters disrupted a pro-Egypt democracy demonstration in Ramallah
Witnesses said young men surrounded hundreds of demonstrators and began chanting, The people need Mahmoud Abbas
, waving placards with the image of the Palestinian leader and yellow Fateh symbols.
Fights broke out and demonstrators began leaving what was otherwise a peaceful rally in the heart of Palestinians' most important city.
Protesters, which included prominent political figures Hanan Ashrawi
and Mustafa Barghouti
, gathered in support of the Egyptian pro-democracy struggle in what was dubbed an international “Day of Solidarity.”
Hundreds of protesters holding large Palestinian flags with small Egyptian flags tacked to the top of their flag poles chanted in unison, demanding Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak step down.
The Palestinian touch to the solidarity demonstration was evident not only in the flags but also the anger with Mubarak’s role as mediator between the Israel and the United States. Much of the anger was directed to the United States, however.
“Mubarak the American agent,” protesters called out and From Gaza
to Ramallah, leave, leave, America.”
Some twenty minutes into the afternoon protest, a young man holding a massive US flag climbed up on a statue of a lion in Manara Square. The crowd stopped chanting and turned towards the young man, cheering him on. As the flag went ablaze, a thunder of applause shook the crowd, which was increasingly growing in number.
When it appeared that the central Ramallah location could no longer sustain the number of protesters, which included around some 30 members of the press, demonstrators marched on to nearby Rukab street. Bystanders cheered on the march, with many joining in.
Palestinian police watched from a distance and did not interfere with the hundreds of protesters that disrupted the busy intersection. Unlike several other other pro-Egypt protests that were broken up by police, this demonstration had been granted a permit by authorities.
Demonstrations also took place in Bethlehem
. The protests were organized by Palestinian civil society organizations and spread through a combination of social networking websites and word-of-mouth.
Protesters said they were satisfied with the demonstration's turnout.
“I am so proud that we all got together for the Egyptian people,” said Randa Abu Hazem, a 27-year-old protester who drove to Ramallah from Jenin
. “I’m even more pleased that the security didn’t disrupt our march.”
Others, like Rebecca Walden, a tourist from Orlando, Florida, felt offended and confused that her country was targeted.
“Why didn’t they burn an Israeli flag instead of an American one?” she said. “I think it’s ironic that they are angry with Mubarak for being an American puppet when clearly they are the ones too afraid of a more obvious enemy, which would be Israel