In Minnesota, Support For Cairo Protesters

By James Schugel, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Massive protests involving tens of thousands of people happened again Friday across Egypt, despite a tough government effort to stop them.

In what was called a “day of wrath,” protestors threw rocks, glass and sticks at hundreds of police officers. Police fired back, using rubber-bullets, tear gas and even water to calm the chaos.

The riots happened in the capitol, Cairo and in 11 other provinces.

“I’m supporting the people in the streets in Egypt,” said Mohammed Khamed, an Egyptian who’s studying at the University of Minnesota. “At the end, I need a better life for myself and for my family.”

He and a couple dozen other students, who many are also from Egypt, gathered on campus Friday afternoon. They held signs and shouted in support of their fellow Egyptians.

Khamed feels the Egyptian government has got to go, and feels the same desire for change that tens of thousands of other Egyptians feel who are now uprising.

Professor William O. Beeman, who is the Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, isn’t surprised by what’s going on in Egypt. He has lived there and studied the culture.

“We’re just waiting for Egypt to explode, really,” he said. “The government of Egypt has been oppressive, and under Hosni Mubarak, the oppression has become more severe.”

Beeman says the youth have been restless. He points to a number of problems they want changed, including poverty, political oppression and lack of jobs that have been building for years.

“They know the world. They know … how life is in Europe and the United States, and they want the same things for themselves,” he said.

The government has tried stopping the protestors by cutting off the Internet and cell phone service in order to keep them from gathering. A 12-hour curfew was also imposed.

The national airline, EgyptAir, suspended flights out of Cairo in response to that curfew.

The White House sees Egypt as a key ally in the Middle East and gives the country millions in foreign aid every year.

Now, the President and his Administration are reviewing whether to continue that aid because of the protests.

Some are concerned that the protests could spread to nearby countries too.

Khamed and the other students at the University believe they’ll see real change in their home country when the Egyptian government falls and democracy comes to the country.

“We need to be in a better position, and in order to be in a better position, we need to have democracy in our country,” he said.

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(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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