WASHINGTON — Hundreds of opponents of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak called at a rally in Washington Saturday for his overthrow and urged Washington to “stand on the right side of history” and cut off aid to his regime.
Amid a sea of Egyptian and American flags and protest placards in English and Arabic with slogans including “Pharaoh no more” and “Overthrow Mubarak,” the crowd, estimated at between 900 and 1,000, took turns leading chants in front of the Egyptian embassy.
“Mubarak has to go,” shouted Ayman Hodhod, standing atop snow-covered security barriers.
“America should get on the right side of history and stop giving financial aid to Mubarak because he uses it to abuse his own people,” said Hodhod, who had traveled from the midwestern state of Minnesota for the rally.
Mohammed Eid grabbed a megaphone, pointed it toward the embassy and led the protesters in chants in Arabic of “Down, down Mubarak” and “Seven million jobless in Egypt.”
As that round of noise stopped, an emotional Amal el Bahi took up a new mantra of “Mubarak must go,” shouting to the edge of hoarseness as the crowd joined in.
“It’s our country, not theirs,” el Bahi told AFP, gesturing toward the embassy, where slight movement could be seen behind a tinted glass entrance door, set back several meters (yards) from the high steel barriers and three US police officers that separated the diplomatic building from protesters.
On the brink of tears, el Bahi told AFP she has lost contact with her son in Egypt since massive street protests began there earlier this week.
Reports from Egypt have said nearly 100 people have died in the protests in Egypt against Mubarak, who on Friday sacked his cabinet and promised reforms in an effort to stem the popular uprising.
But as the violence continued in Egypt, the protesters in Washington said Mubarak’s actions and promises rang hollow, and insisted that the only thing they wanted was for him to go.
“I don’t think anyone should accept the same president for 30 years,” said a middle-aged woman who gave her name only as Nabila B.
“I want for my country the same as we have in America. I want freedom — free speech, free elections — and I don’t want the same face,” she said.
The demonstration in Washington was one of dozens across the United States, called to show solidarity with the masses who have taken to the streets in Egypt to demand Mubarak step down after 30 years of iron-fisted rule.