Egypt Blocks US Activists' March

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Al-Jazeera/English

Egypt Blocks US Activists' March

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Gaza Freedom Marchers are campaigning against the siege raised on the Palestinian territory [AFP]

Egyptian security forces have attempted to prevent dozens of US activists from reaching their embassy in Cairo.

Hoping to ask the American ambassador for help in reaching the Gaza
Strip, riot police surrounded 41 US citizens and one Egyptian on
Tuesday and blocked their progress.

All those surrounded were members of the Gaza Freedom Marchers organisation, a group planning to travel to Gaza to protest an Egyptian and Israeli blockade of the besieged territory.

However, one activist, Ali Abunimah, a co-founder of The Electronic
Intifada website, told Al Jazeera that the US embassy did eventually
allow US citizens to enter their embassy in groups of ten.

"We
met with a political rep. in the embassy, Greg Legrefo, and talked
about the dire situation in Gaza and international complicity for more
than hour .... but the bottom line is the US supports the siege of Gaza.

"The US Army Corps of Engineers is even providing technical
assistance to build an underground wall [to stop the Gaza tunnel
networks from operating]."

Demonstration

An impromptu demonstration, reported on the Twitter micro-blogging
service, began as soon as police prevented the groups progess on a side
street near the embassy, keeping them there for hours.

"We believe the US Embassy asked Egyptian State Security to act
against its own citizens and prevent them from entering the Embassy,"
Gael Murphy, one of the activists, said.

"We are outraged as US citizens about being detained simply for trying to get to our embassy," she said.

US embassy spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment.

Organisers of the Gaza Freedom March say 1,300 people from around
the world came to Egypt to try to enter Gaza to deliver aid and to
participate in a peaceful march protesting the closure of the Gaza
Strip's borders.

Since the activists were told last month that they would not be able
to march on Gaza, they have staged a series of small protests around
Cairo.

US citizen Hedy Epstein, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, on
Monday said she would go on hunger strike to protest Egypt's refusal to
allow the march to proceed.

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