By William Zeman
WASHINGTON: Nearly 300 people, from a variety of backgrounds, descended on the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, DC, as well as the White House, to show their support for protesters in Egypt.
Similar demonstrations were organized in other cities across the US and the world.
While many of the protesters were Egyptians living in DC, or Egyptian-Americans, others came from many different ethnicities, including non-Arabs.
“Mubarak pretty much does whatever the US tells him to do,” said Zohair Ahmad, an IT specialist in Washington, explaining why the protesters had come to the White House.
Yusuf Abdulaziz, a business owner, said he came to make a statement against the Egyptian regime.
“I’m protesting the corruption,” Abdulaziz said. “In Europe or America, you know, the president gets elected for four years, and then you do it again…. In the Middle East, the president becomes a king.”
“These people, they’re tired of that,” Abdulaziz added.
Protesters chanted in both Arabic and English, with “down, down, down with Mubarak” being supplemented with American variations like “hey, ho, Hosni Mubarak’s got to go!” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
Many DC locals joined the protests as well.
Liz Lowengard, a DC native, said she had been inspired by the Egyptian protesters.
“I’m not Egyptian, but today I feel Egyptian,” she said. “I have been inspired by all the people marching in the streets in Cairo. There was no place I wanted to be more than in front of the Egyptian Embassy and now the White House.”
Protesters held signs calling for Obama to withdraw US support for the Mubarak regime.
“Obama — you told us you don’t support torture,” read one sign. Another said “Egypt is a US ally. Mubarak is not!”
Khaled Saleh, an Egyptian-American martial arts instructor, said he would not stop protesting until Mubarak steps down as Egypt’s president.
“We are here to send a message to President Mubarak,” Saleh said.
He said he believes Mubarak is watching protests in front of Egyptian embassies worldwide. “He has to,” Saleh said. “He must be watching these things closely.”
Saleh had a message he wanted to convey to Mubarak.
“We appreciate what you did for our country,” Saleh said, tying an Egyptian flag around his neck before joining the protest. “But it’s time for you to leave.”
“He has to respect the wish of the people,” Saleh added. “By choice, I hope. But it will be force if we have to.”