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EGYPT: Police shut down Iran solidarity march

June 29, 2009 |  8:55 am


An attempt by Egyptians to march in solidarity with Iranian protesters and to honor Neda-Agha Soltan -- whose death earlier this month made her the icon of Iran's opposition movement -- was halted by security forces in Cairo over the weekend.

The Cairo rally was called by democracy activist and opposition leader Ayman Nour and was scheduled to be held in Talaat Harb square in the Egyptian capital's downtown. But dozens of security vehicles surrounded Nour and his fellow protesters upon their arrival at the square. Police arrested four protesters belonging to Nour's party and prevented reporters from covering the event.

"It is very ironic how Egyptian authorities, who earlier expressed their dismay against the Iranian regime's oppressive means of handling protesters, are now banning us from a march that shares the same perspective," Nour said at a news conference at his party's headquarters. "Such acts only prove one thing and it is that the Egyptian and Iranian regimes are quite the same when it comes to their autocratic path and rejection of democracy."

Soltan was shot dead earlier this month  by Iranian militiamen while she was watching a demonstration in Tehran against the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She became an instant symbol of the her country's protest movement.

Nour expressed his confidence that Soltan's death would not be in vain, adding that the memory of the young woman  could change Iran's political direction. "Soltan has become a symbol of freedom in Iran and the whole Middle East," he said. "She can inspire many to force major alterations in the country's regime."

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Ayman Nour. Credit: Associated Press