Tens of thousands march against Mubarak in Alexandria

Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Egypt’s second city Alexandria calling for President Hosni Mubarak to quit, hoping to swell their numbers to a million on an eighth day of anger.

More than 50,000 people massed in front of Qaed Ibrahim mosque near El-Raml station in the Mediterranean port before marching off down the corniche, an AFP correspondent said.

Organisers of the protests against Mubarak’s three-decade rule called for a “march of a million” in Alexandria after the authorities cancelled all train services in a bid to stymie a similar march in Cairo on Tuesday.

The Alexandria demo was smaller than the hundreds of thousands who massed in Cairo’s Tahrir square, but was expected to grow much larger with hundreds joining by the minute.

Many demonstrators waved Egyptian flags, including one scrawled with “Get out you scum, go be with Zine El Abidine’, in reference to Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, forced into exile by popular protests last month.

Nearby a group of angry protesters carried Mubarak’s symbolic coffin, shouting “Mubarak is dead without God’s mercy.”

At least 300 people are estimated to have been killed in clashes with police since protests began eight days ago, demanding that Mubarak quit and calling for democracy, jobs, and an end to corruption and police human rights abuses.

Just released from hospital after losing his hand after getting caught up in protests on Friday, Osama Maghazi is now demonstrating. Police shotgun pellets blew off his fingers on one hand, which has now been amputated.

The port worker said that on Friday he happened to be passing by the protests when he became embroiled in the violence.

“It’s the people’s right to define their fate,” Maghazi, in his 30s, told AFP. “I never expected the people’s will to be stronger than the regime but now it’s the people’s will that rules.”

He said he was happy that the police mangling of his hand had spurred on protesters on Friday.

“The people demand the toppling of the president,” the crowd shouted, along with “One people, one demand.”

Protesters also sought to stress the popular nature of their demand for Mubarak to end his 30-year rule and go, crying “No parties, no groups, it’s a revolution by the youth.”

A huge banner flapped under the Mediterranean winter sunshine: “We die and Egypt lives.”

As the massive crowd headed off down the corniche, they passed a just-married couple driving in the other direction and greeted them with celebratory whistling.