Egyptian Protestors Take to Chicago's Streets

Local demonstraters show solidarity with Egyptians

By Jeff Goldblatt
|  Sunday, Jan 30, 2011  |  Updated 11:24 AM CDT
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Protesters in <a title=Chicago say they stand by the Egyptian demonstrators in a bid to stop oppression, and create a real democracy." />

Protesters in Chicago say they stand by the Egyptian demonstrators in a bid to stop oppression, and create a real democracy.

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They chanted in Arabic and in English, but the message spread by a few hundred demonstrators on Michigan Avenue was the same: Egypt President Hosni Mubarak must go.
 
"He's a dictator. He's been ruling for the past 30 years with no free and fair elections," said protestor Amenah Ibrahim, a Palestinian American, mother of two, and wife of an Egyptian.  "There's a huge gap between the rich and the poor. There are no jobs for the young. There are all the educated and bright people and there is no future for them. All they want is a democracy."
 
Unlike the protests of the last five days in Egypt, which have been marred by violence, the Chicago rally was marked by its peace.  Chicago Police, however, stood by with extra manpower just in case, because the rally took place outside the city's Egyptian Consulate.
 
Ashraf Elessawy, a Chicagoan with dual US-Egyptian citizenship who helped organized today's march, says its critical to stand in solidarity with the pro-democratic demonstrators in his homeland.  "It's about freedom and the reform we want in our country." 
 
With his parents and four sisters still living in Egypt, Elessawy says he is especially concerned about the situation over there.   He says it took him four days, before he managed to get a phone call through to his family.  "They are scared. They are staying in their homes. They can't leave."
 
Elessawy says another protest is in the works in Chicago for next week.  Meantime, he plans to keep a close eye on his homeland and the power struggle at the highest level of government.  He says he's concerned about what could follow after 30 years of autocratic rule under Mubarak, but that he has confidence that in a nation of 18 million people, someone capable and reform-minded will be able to lead the country.  "Any alternative will be better than the current situation there."

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