Egyptian protesters demand expulsion of Saudi ambassador

Egyptian protesters demand expulsion of Saudi ambassador

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Sun, 04/09/2011 - 16:48

Hundreds of Egyptians gathered at the Saudi eEmbassy in Cairo on Sunday to protest what they claimed to be the kingdom's mistreatment of Egyptians who were performing Umrah, or minor pilgrimage, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. 

Some protesters accused Riyadh of interfering in Egypt's internal affairs following the uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February.

“We demand the expulsion of the Saudi ambassador to Egypt,” read a large banner posted in front of the Saudi Embassy in Cairo.

Thousands of Egyptians were stranded, some for several days, in Jeddah last week after ending their pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

They accused the Saudi Airline and Jeddah airport authorities of failing to arrange a sufficient number of flights to transport them back home for the Eid holiday following the end of the rituals. 

Nabawia Mohamed, one of the protesters in front of the embassy, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that she lost her luggage in Jeddah airport due to the ariport’s official “negligence.” “What made my experience in Saudi Arabia even worse was when a Saudi policeman slapped me in the face while I was performing the Umrah rituals in Mecca,” she added.  

Earlier on Sunday, Egypt's consul in Jeddah, Maher al-Mahdy expressed dissatisfaction with the way the Saudi Airlines treated Egyptian pilgrims at Jeddah airport.

Upon returning home many of the pilgrims complained of mistreatment and humiliation at the airport. Some said they were forced to wait outside the airport building without food or water under scorching sun.

A few claimed that Saudi airport officials were bitter at Egyptians for overthrowing Mubarak.

Some returnees staged sit-ins in Saudi Airline aircrafts upon their arrival at Cairo Airport to demand an apology and compensation.

The Egyptian government said Thursday that the crisis, which lasted most of the week, was resolved.

Saudi officials denied any mistreatment or that flight delays were limited to Egyptians alone.

They attributed the flight delays to the high season and blamed Egyptian pilgrims for failing to confirm their return bookings.

In Sunday's protests, some demonstrators also condemned what they called mistreatment of Egyptian workers in Saudi Arabia.

Last week hundred of Egyptians staged a similar protest.