Toronto rally echoes calls for reform in Egypt
Hundreds of people attended a peaceful rally at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday afternoon to support protesters who are clashing with police on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.
People crowded the square in a sign of solidarity for the demonstrators in Egypt and a show of concern about the growing strife that has killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds more.
Draped in flags and waving placards in the air, the crowd in downtown Toronto showed its disdain for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, chanting "Mubarak must go" before rally officially began at 1 p.m.
Their calls echoed the anti-Mubarak sentiment of thousands of pro-democracy protesters who continued to demonstrate in several Egyptian cities Saturday.
In Toronto, people who attended the solidarity rally called for Mubarak's removal and for political reform in the North African nation.
"(Egyptians) deserve freedom. They do not need anymore regimes," rally organizer Ahmed Khalifa told CTV News.
Khalifa has relatives and friends living in the middle of the unrest.
"My family is on the streets, their neighbours are on the streets protecting their own buildings from looting," Khalifa said.
Local Egyptian-Canadians were joined at the rally by Canadians of other nationalities and immigrants from Arab countries such as Tunisia, another North African nation where civil unrest led to the end of its dictator's decades-long rule earlier this month.
Khalifa likened the revolt in Egypt to the civil unrest in East Germany that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the end of communism and the reunification of Germany.
As a precaution, Toronto police officers monitored the pro-democracy rally to make sure it remained orderly.
The Toronto gathering, organized on social-networking websites such as Facebook, followed peaceful demonstrations in Ottawa and Montreal on Friday.
Demonstrations, looting continue in Egypt
Meanwhile, protests in Egypt took another deadly turn Saturday when Egyptian police opened fire on a massive crowd, killing at least three demonstrators in downtown Cairo. Despite a government-imposed curfew, public demonstrations and widespread looting of shops and homes continued.
Residents and shopkeepers in affluent neighbourhoods were boarding up their houses and stores against the looters roaming the streets with knives and sticks. Gunfire was heard in some neighbourhoods.
For five days, thousands of protestors have been demanding the end of Mubarek's 30-year reign over the North African nation.
Protesters' demands include term limits for the presidency, the dismissal of Interior Minister Habib El-Adly, an end to police brutality and the abolition of the state of emergency designation in place since 1981.
On Saturday, Mubarak named his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice-president, setting the stage for a successor as demands for the longtime leader's ouster showed no sign of abating.
Protestors are also upset with massive unemployment, rising food prices and unflinching poverty that has gripped Egypt for years.
With files from The Associated Press