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Egyptians in Canada find solidarity in protest

For Reem Owais, the loud but peaceful protest on a cold and sunny Sunday in downtown Montreal was her first. But not, she vowed, her last.

"The only thing that matters is that things change in Egypt. We have had enough," said Ms. Owais, a mother of two who was at her first-ever demonstration, one of many over the weekend in different cities across Canada to denounce the undemocratic regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"This is the first one for me," said Ms. Owais, who came to Canada from Egypt three years ago and whose parents still live in Cairo. But she said she plans to attend more such events of defiance over the next few days in a show of solidarity with her fellow Egyptians.

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About 100 people showed up Sunday afternoon in front of a downtown Montreal high-rise where the consulate general of the Arab Republic of Egypt is located. Expatriate Egyptians and supporters have been gathering for the past several days at the same spot, chanting slogans and singing the Egyptian national anthem, waving Egyptian and Canadian flags and placards and calling for the immediate ouster of Mr. Mubarak, who has had an iron grip on the country for 30 years.

Organizers of the Montreal demonstration vowed to return every day until Mr. Mubarak leaves.

"This is bringing Muslims and [Coptic]Christians together," said Nabil Malek, president of the Canadian Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. "The momentum is there. We have to continue showing support for this revolution," he said.

"We have to stand together," said Mohammed Kamel, one of the organizers of the Montreal protest. "We are also calling on Canada to stop supporting Mubarak and his regime."

Among the chants from the crowd was a call for help from the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "Harper, Harper where are you? All the Egyptians are asking you!"

There were similar non-violent gatherings over the weekend in several other Canadian cities.

No incidents were reported by police.

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In Toronto on Saturday, an estimated 400 people staged a rally at Yonge-Dundas Square, chanting in Arabic with many hoisting signs that read "Egyptians in, Mubarak out."

"It's a matter of time now" before the regime is toppled, said Wael Zaghloul, a Toronto resident whose mother and sister live in Alexandria, one of three major Egyptian cities where the worst violence has been seen.

In Vancouver, a crowd gathered at Library Square in the city's downtown Saturday to listen to speakers and express their support for anti-government actions in Egypt.

About 100 turned out for a rally at Churchill Square in front of City Hall in Edmonton on Saturday.

In Halifax, about two dozen people were reported to have showed up for a show of support at Victoria Park on Saturday. Another rally was expected to be held Sunday at Halifax's Grand Parade.

With reports from The Canadian Press

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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