Atlantans Protest in Solidarity with Egyptian People

Original source: The Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) ATLANTA -- About 300 people gathered at CNN Center to stand in solidarity with the Egyptian people.  The crowd chanted "30 years is enough - Mubarak must go."

"The rally at CNN was extremely positive support, whether from the non-Egyptians who participated or the people supporting our cause in the streets, dozens of cars honking in support, some even slowing down to show support, hold flags and take photos," Sherif Abdelmohsen, a PhD student at Georgia Tech, told Atlanta Progressive News.
"This really raised our spirits and made us feel how important it is that the American people know more and more about the situation in Egypt and the region," Abdelmohsen said.

Sameh Abdelaziz, an Egyptian American, said he and a few friends organized the solidarity protest in only a few days using the Internet, Facebook, and by calling friends.
Protests occurred in dozens of other US states from California to New York in support of the Egyptian people, as well as in many other countries.
"Mubarak is a modern manifestation of a Pharaoh and hopefully he will be the last Pharaoh of Egypt," Nagi Gebraeel, one of the organizers, told APN. 

"His 30 year regime has never had any vision for the future of the Egyptian people.  The money for the budget does not go to programs that serve the people.  It goes to the military and the security services like police," he said.
"Egypt has lots of resources but only the elite prosper.  There is no middle class, the people are impoverished.  41 million people live below the poverty line, the price for basic food is very high, and the infrastructure is decaying," he said.

"Egypt was a timebomb and Tunisia was the spark that ignited the timebomb," Gebraeel said, referring to a Tunisian man who set himself on fire, igniting the movement among Tunisians to create an independent nation.
"The anger in Egypt is real and unprecedented.  The courageous Christian, Muslim, and Secular Egyptians fighting side by side for their democratic right to end a totalitarian government will not impede until Mubarak and his government is out.  Changing the government alone will not be enough," Abdelaziz said.
Although President Mubarak has dissolved the Egyptian cabinet by asking for the voluntary resignation of its members, he refuses to step down. 

Mubarak has also appointed a new Vice President; however, according to US filmmaker Michael Moore, the new VP ran the US's secret rendition program in Egypt.

All of this has angered the people in the streets of Egypt.  One man on national television yelled "Go to Hell Mubarak" and another held up a sign "We hate Mubarak," while others burn pictures of Mubarak. 

Mubarak promises to press ahead with social, economic and political reforms but he has no creditability with the people.  He has made promises before which he has not kept.  It's too little too late.  Protesters across Egypt are calling for regime change.  Everyone knows that Mubarak must go, except Mubarak.

"I believe that a free, progressive, and democratic Egypt will become a better ally of US," Abdelaziz said.  "A new permanent government in Egypt will be a secular one that respects the traditions but acts with an eye on the future to solve people’s problems and bring them to the twenty-first century."

"This revolt is not an ideological or religious one.  It is a natural human reaction that rejects injustice and corruption.  I want people to understand that people in Egypt and everywhere in the world have the same dreams, hopes, and aspirations to see their kids doing better than they did, to be able to support their families, find jobs, and live dignified life.  In summary, geography has nothing to do with dreams," Abdelaziz said.

The US has been a major backer of the Egyptian military over the last three decades, supplying the country with around 2 billion dollars in annual aid, mostly for military purposes.

The US government has helped keep Mubarak in power for years.

However, the Daily Telegraph newspaper of the UK reported that Wikileaks documents show that US "was offering support to pro-democracy activists in Egypt while publicly praising Mr. Mubarak as an important ally in the Middle East.  The [US] government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning 'regime change' for the past three years."

It appears the US may have been playing both sides.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently told NBC news that the US has long supported free and fair elections in Egypt and a transition to a participatory democracy, including Democratic and Republican administrations alike.

Egyptians are fed up with rampant corruption, repression, joblessness, poverty, and rising prices – issues raised in chants and on homemade signs.

There's no single organizer of the Egyptian protests, which have been occurring for several days.  "Activists, students, and ordinary people have coordinated over cellular telephones, the Internet, and social networking sites," Al Jazeera television has reported.  Al Jazeera's US viewership has quadrupled in recent days.

"The protests started as peaceful.  People were shouting 'peaceful, peaceful' while marching and insisted on ensuring and enforcing that themselves," Abdelmohsen said.

"Once they showed persistence, that this corrupt regime must fall, security forces got orders to disperse protesters.  They started using rubber bullets, tear gas, and this escalated to using live ammunition later on and a lot of casualties and deaths," Abdelmohsen said.

"In addition, security forces used secret police and intentionally released thugs and criminals from prisons to gradually spread chaos as another way to trick the people and get them to think that a lot of violence is going on from the protesters' side," Abdelmohsen said.

"This led to the escalation of the latest looting as well, where the regime wanted to put the people under the impression that the vast majority of the vandalism is from the protesters, thus allowing more eradication or the possibly killing of the protesters," Abdelmohsen said.

More than 100 have been killed in protests across Egypt, Al Jazeera reports.

"Egypt is pivotal in Middle Eastern politics and what happens here will resonate with other countries like Algeria, Yemen and Syria," Gebraeel said.

Factors that triggered the Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" - hike in food price and costs of living, can also be seen in Ethiopia.  A similar revolution could be replicated there.

Leaders in countries where unemployment, inflation, poverty, and economic inequality exist, may be ripe for their own "Jasmine Revolution" or "Days of Rage."

Thousands have already taken to the streets in Jordan, demanding the country's prime minister step down, and the government curb rising prices, inflation, and unemployment.

"In this connected world of ours every corner of the Earth is capable of reaching out to every other corner.  This connectivity brings the potential of progress.  Scientific advancements, better living conditions, or it can bring extremism, hatred, and destruction. This revolt has the potential to bring justice, freedom, an democracy to Egyptians, which would be the first real victory over extremism since we started that war," Abdelaziz states.

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