CAIRO - Thousands of students staged demonstrations across Egypt on Tuesday to press for the lifting of the 24-year-old state of emergency and more constitutional and political reforms.
"Oh freedom, where are you? The state of emergency stands between us and you," chanted some 3,000 protesters in the Nile delta town of Khafr al-Sheikh while similar rallies were held at university campuses in the capital.
The demonstrations are the latest in a series of rallies organized by opposition activists in recent weeks to demand tangible political reforms and to oppose a fifth term for veteran President Hosni Mubarak.
In Cairo, an estimated 2,000 students gathered on the campus of al-Azhar university to demand the government lift the state of emergency introduced after president Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981.
The protesters, most of them Islamists, also chanted slogans against Mubarak's secular regime.
Since the imposition of the state of emergency, the authorities have generally tolerated public demonstrations only on university campuses or outside mosques.
Under growing pressure from its US ally, on which it is heavily dependent for both military and civilian aid, the government has accepted the need for reform.
Earlier this year, Mubarak announced that rival candidates will for the first time be able to stand in presidential elections due this September.
Previously, voters were only given the opportunity to say yes or no to a single candidate nominated by parliament, which is overwhelmingly dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party.