Standing with the Egyptian people in Sydney

I was there today, in the heart of Sydney, on a sweltering day showing solidarity with the millions of Egyptians demanding change. No to Mubarak. No to Israeli/US backing of Arab dictatorships:

Hundreds of demonstrators have staged an emotion-charged rally in Sydney demanding that beleaguered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stand down.

In a passionate outpouring of guilt, anger and grief, about 200 people, mainly members of the Egyptian community, braved soaring temperatures in the city on Saturday.

Waving flags and protest banners, they listened intently to rousing speeches in Martin Place, occasionally breaking out in chants of “Down, down Mubarak” and “Free, free Egypt”.

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“He says he wants a chance but Mubarak had 30 years of a chance,” Mohammed Helal, of the Islamic Egyptian Society of NSW, told the cheering crowd.

“Egypt is behind the young people in (Cairo’s) Tahrir Square. They want freedom, they want a free media.”

The death toll reportedly stands at 10, including one foreigner, with more than 800 injured after the latest round of violence that erupted when Mr Mubarak declared he intended to hold on to power until scheduled elections in September.

Nour Eldin Tarraf, 32, who attired the rally with his wife and two small children, said he feels guilty that he can’t be in his native Egypt at such an important time.

“If my circumstances allowed, I would be on the streets of Cairo,” he said, struggling to hold back tears.

“I feel very guilty that I am privileged to be here and be so safe, while others are putting their lives at risk to fight for my rights.

“Deep down, I feel like I’m a coward.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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