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Rallies Around Metro Detroit Support Egyptian People

posted on: Feb 6, 2011

Arab Americans in southeastern Michigan continue to take a stand in support of widespread reform protests in Egypt by staging a second round of weekend rallies.

Demonstrations of varying sizes were held Saturday throughout Metro Detroit.

Representatives of the Congress of Arab American Organizations-Michigan, which represents more than 40 groups, called for a day of solidarity with Egyptian protesters. Some 250 people chanted for 45 minutes in front of Dearborn City Hall, said the group’s spokesman Osama Siblani.

Later, more than 500 people gathered at the Lebanese-American Heritage Club down the street for an indoor rally and candlelight vigil, Siblani told The Detroit News.

The group would like to see the Obama administration support the will of the Arab people in their quest for democracy, said Siblani, who is the publisher of the Arab American News.

“When we support dictators, we make enemies of the people,” he said. “When we support the people, you never go wrong, your interest is protected. Freedom and democracy are our principles, right?”

Tens of thousandsare demanding Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster and clashes in central Cairo between protesters and regime supporters have left 11 people dead this week.

Organizers of an afternoon rally in Royal Oak say about 50 people joined them to raise their voices against Mubarak.

Hany Othman, a 32-year-old Oakland Community College computer science professor who left Egypt 14 years ago, said the people in his native country deserve democracy.

“It’s not fair to the people to be stuck with one man. The maximum you get stuck with a (president) here is eight years,” Othman said. “We have four seasons in one year. We’ve been having one season (in Egypt) for 30 years.”

Steve Wassef, 36 of Madison Heights, whose parents fled Egypt in 1968, said the time is ripe for change, but it’s long overdue.

“America’s 1776 is Egypt’s 2011,” he said.

Micki Steele
The Detroit News