Skip to comments.Egyptians Hold Largest Anti-Mubarak Protest Yet
Posted on 02/22/2005 5:37:13 AM PST by Land_of_Lincoln_John
CAIRO (Reuters) - Several hundred Egyptians protested in central Cairo on Monday in the largest street demonstration since the launch last year of a campaign against continued rule by the Mubarak family.
Liberals, leftists and Islamists chanted: "Enough, shame, have mercy" and "Down, down with (President) Hosni Mubarak" in a public square outside the gates of Cairo University, as tens of thousands of mostly bemused commuters drove past.
Many of them carried yellow flags or stickers saying "Enough" -- the slogan of an informal movement dedicated to stopping Mubarak from obtaining a fifth six-year term in office or arranging for his son Gamal to take over the presidency.
Thousands of riot police armed with batons and shields surrounded the protesters and prevented some people from joining the crowd, but they did not attempt to disperse them.
The two and a half hour protest was the fourth in a series organized by two pro-democracy movements since December as Egypt goes into a year of presidential and parliamentary elections.
The demonstrators also called for the release of opposition leader Ayman Nour, who was stripped of his parliamentary immunity last month and detained for 45 days pending investigations into accusations that his party submitted forged documents when it applied for recognition last year.
Nour's Ghad (Tomorrow) Party has dismissed the accusations as having been fabricated for political reasons. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week the United States has "very strong concerns" about the detention of Nour.
The disagreement with the United States over Nour played a part in the Egyptian government's decision on Saturday to postpone indefinitely a meeting of Group of Eight and Arab ministers on reform inside the Arab world, diplomats said.
Egypt said it was delaying the meeting, originally planned for Cairo on March 3, at the request of Arab governments which wanted it to be held after an Arab summit in Algiers in late March so that it could discuss the summit's decisions.
One diplomat said: "There's probably some truth in the official explanation but we suspect it was not the only reason."
"(Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed) Aboul Gheit's just back from the States and issues were raised there that make it quite difficult to hold the meeting in the way that was envisaged," added the diplomat, who asked not to be named.
Nour was one of the most vocal advocates of constitutional reform to allow for multi-candidate presidential elections.
Under the present system, parliament nominates a sole presidential candidate and Egyptians can then vote "yes" or "no" in a referendum. Given the ruling party's control of parliament and the traditional apathy of the Egyptian electorate, the system enables incumbents to stay in office indefinitely.
U.S. pressure has received a mixed reaction among Egyptian reformers, many of whom fear that any association with the United States will damage their cause by giving opponents of reform an opportunity to portray them as U.S. proxies.
At Monday's demonstration, organizer Abdel Halim Qandil said the democracy movement rejected any foreign intervention, especially from the United States, which has a poor image in Egypt because of its support for Israel.
"America has a particular vision of change in the region, on the model of what happened in Iraq. We have a different vision, against America and against the regime," he told reporters.
But Mazen Mostafa, a Ghad Party member who attended the protest, said that in private the Egyptian reformers wanted the Bush administration to push reform in the region.
"But I'm afraid they will repeat the same mistake and give advantages to regimes which are efficient (in guarding U.S. interests)," he added.
Isn't that the way it always is? Publicly they hate America, privately they love what America represents and yearn for it in their own country.
I think it best not to judge these people too harshly. They have been fed a steady, large diet of anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism for so long under Mubarak that they see only a glimmer of the truth.
But make no mistake, the Egyptians, like other Arab countries and the rest of the world, have seen what we have done in Iraq and long for change themselves. It is highly doubtful there would be such demonstrations in Egypt, Syria, Lybia, and even secretly in Iran, without the world-changing effort we have undertaken in Iraq! May God bless George W. Bush.
Egypt is very complicated. Many of the people who are pushing for a government change are radical left wingers and Islamists, who hate us and want to push Egypt more and more into the Islamist camp. So I think we have to tread very carefully.
Very, very true. However, the larger point seems to be an unusually broad rumbling of change that seems to have emanated from the epicenter of Iraqi. Let's hope it's for the democratic good and not for a return to a Khomeni style of theocracy.
The tipping point will always be what happens in Israel; and it's day-to-day. Meanwhile, it's refreshing to see the rumblings of yearning for liberty, breaking out all over!
Excuse me, Egypt, you will have to wait your turn. Can't have all you crazies getting democracy at the same time. Form a queue and wait your turn.
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