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Sarah Leah Whitson, the very-active Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, sent a letter to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, weighing in on the arrests of Ayman Nour in downtown Cairo, and several other Egyptian activists the day before at the Cairo International Book Fair; a raid on the Book Fair booth of Dar Mirit publishers; and the silencing of Mohamed al-Sayyid Sa’id, the deputy director of Al-Ahram center for Political and Strategic Studies. She also mentions the arrest of nine Muslim Brothers on January 31, which I hadn’t heard about. It’s here.
Al-Jazeera is reporting on the demonstrations today outside the Cairo Book Fair, though they don’t estimate the numbers of protestors.
A speaker told the crowd: “During Mubarak’s four terms in office, a quarter of a million Egyptians have been jailed. If you want others to follow them, vote for a fifth term.”
Demonstrators also chanted slogans against Egypt’s relations with Israel and its plans to host a landmark summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh on Tuesday between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Nadine Gordimer was the guest of honor at the Book Fair. I wonder what she made of all this….