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Africa

Egypt protesters stage interfaith prayers for dead

media Opposition supporters flash victory signs near Tahrir Square Reuters/Issei Kato

Demonstrators on Cairo’s Tahrir Square held Coptic Christian and Muslim prayers for the 300 people who have died in protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, as banks reopened and the army reinforced its presence.

Banks reopened, causing queues for cash withdrawals, and traffic reappeared on the capital’s streets on the 13th day of protests. The central bank has limited daily personal cash withdrawals to 50,000 Egypitian pounds (7,000 euros) in an attempt to avoid a run on the banks.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

The military took up positions on 6 October bridge, which was the scene of clashes between pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak demonstrators during the week. Soldiers were deployed at the entrance to the square and near the Egyptian Museum, although barricades erected by the anti-Mubarak camp remained in place.

Police, who vanished from the streets after becoming a focus of protesters’ anger, have also reappeared.

Despite poor weather and signs of protest fatigue, thousands of people remain on the square.

A Coptic priest and Muslim sheikh stood together to commemorate the dead, as the crowd shouted “a single hand, a single hand” to show interfaith solidarity. Prayers of both faiths followed.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is formally banned, was set to hold talks with Vice-President Omar Suleiman.

The party has said that it is only going to listen to Suleiman's proposals and will not negotiate unless Mubarak leaves power.

Among international reactions to the Egyptian protests Sunday:

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for "an orderly transition" because Hosni Mubarak has been "one of the key players" in the Middle East peace process;
  • Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a "democratic transition" in Egypt "in the shortest possible time" and suggested an interim government;
  • A Kuwaiti youth group, Fifth Fence, called for a mass rally outside parliament on Tuesday to protest at the government's "undemocratic practices" and to kick it out;
  • Jordan's Islamic Action Front said it has turned down an offer to join the government.

 

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