Supporters in U.S. Worry About Demonstrators Back Home in Egypt

BY Mila Sanina  January 31, 2011 at 4:11 PM EST

Egypt protest outside White House; NewsHour photo by Mila Sanina

Dozens of supporters of the demonstrators in Egypt gathered on Sunday afternoon in front of the White House. Holding banners and Egyptian flags, they chanted, “One, two, three, Mubarak has to flee.”

One banner said, “Pharaoh Mubarak: Let my people go.”

Mohamed Mansour, a political activist from Egypt, joined the protests in Washington to support his people. His fiancée is in Egypt, he said, and many of his relatives have been participating in the protests. “I am sure some of them have already been hurt, but this is the price we have to pay to our home, to our Egypt, to our nation. And I am sure that every Egyptian is willing to pay this price,” he said.

A businessman from Baltimore, Wael Elsagaey, also has family in Egypt. He is worried because of ongoing violence across his native country, but he said that the Egyptians are tenacious. “They just want dictator Mubarak to leave, a lot of bad things happened because of him. He has been in power for almost 30 years, and the maximum he is supposed to be in the government for 12 years. He should not stay there longer. He has to go.”

A girl holds a sign reading: 'Hosni Mubarak/leave the country/We don't want U; NewsHour photo by Mila Sanina“I also have relatives and friends in Egypt,” Sahar Aziz, a civil rights attorney and an American citizen of Egyptian descent, told the NewsHour. “They have been safe, but they have become increasingly concerned with the looters, although many of the looters have been government agents who are trying to create chaos to show the world that revolution is not in favor of democracy,” she said. “I pray for their well-being and I hope that this uprising can be resolved quickly through the transition process that would lead to elections and democratic government,” Aziz added.

Monaem Mabrouki, native of Tunisia, came to support the Egyptians in their aspirations to oust Mubarak in part because of the protests in Tunisia. The movement, which drove President Ben Ali from power, is an example for the Arab world, Mabrouki said. “I am joining them as a proud Tunisian. I want everybody to know that it is not about bread. It is not about jobs. It is about dignity.”

“I believe Obama brought hope not only to the United States but also to the whole world,” said Mabrouki, “I voted for him, I am a Tunisian-American citizen. I voted for him because I believe in him. I believed that the dignity he was talking about is for everyone. I was touched by what he said. But now we want to see [him] ‘walk the talk’ and so far he has been doing very well.”

Some people, however, were critical of the White House response to the crisis in Egypt.

“I have been extremely disappointed with the response, said Dina Dirwish, a protest organizer. “It’s unacceptable. Rhetoric from the administration is wishy-washy, full of balanced statements regarding the Mubarak regime. Secretary Clinton [on Sunday] re-iterated her statement that this government could have a dialogue with the demonstrators and the public. This is unacceptable. We do not want this government; it’s made up of Mubarak’s cronies. The Egyptians are able to decide who will govern them. They want Mubarak to go away.”

Activist Sahar Aziz said the administration has been moving in the right direction, but wants the American government to do more. “I think that our government could do more. We have an obligation to do more. Because we are the superpower, we are the beacon of freedom, and we spend $1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money on this regime,” said Aziz.