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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Egypt students rally for reform
Egyptian veiled students of Al Azhar university hold a sign saying No Emergency Law
The Azhar demonstrators included many women as well as men
Thousands of Egyptian university students have demonstrated angrily against the government, in the largest such protest yet to be staged.

The students - mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood movement - marched at five campuses in Cairo and the Nile Delta.

Hundreds of police prevented them from taking their protests outside university gates onto the streets.

Islamists, liberals and nationalists want an end to Egypt's 24-year-old state of emergency.

They also called for an end to the presidency of Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Mubarak has been the country's leader since 1981. He is hoping to win a fifth term in office in elections in September - for the first time in a multi-candidate poll.

Campus protests

Reports quoting police say 4,000 students marched inside the grounds of al-Azhar university in the historic heart of old Cairo.

Many students at this important seat of Sunni Muslim learning flashed V for victory signs and waved small copies of the Islamic holy book, the Koran.

About 1,000 protesters were reported at each of Cairo's Ain Shams and Helwan universities.

Protests at the universities in Kafr al-Sheikh and Mansoura in the Nile Delta attracted about 2,000 students apiece, reports say.

In addition, many students called for an end to the authorities' security control over student elections.

"It is all part of the reform... we want to change students' elections bylaws," said Ain Shams student Khaled Sultan.

Security forces have recently arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members at protests and in raids designed to prevent demonstrations, under the authority of the controversial emergency law.

Under growing US pressure, Egypt has been moving slowly towards reform, with Mr Mubarak allowing rival candidates to appear on the ballot paper.

Until this year, electors could only accept or reject a single candidate chosen by parliament, which is dominated by Mr Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

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