Rallies were held over the weekend in cities throughout the world in support of the mass uprisings in Egypt against the US-backed dictator, Hosni Mubarak.
Social unrest in Egypt is part of a rising wave of protests throughout the Middle East and North Africa, sparked by the self-immolation of a young Tunisian earlier this month. Sympathy demonstrations have been organized in Europe, the United States and Canada.
In the United States, more than one thousand people participated in a demonstration in front of the United Nations building in New York City. Several hundred demonstrated at the Egyptian embassy in Washington DC, and hundreds more participated in cities throughout the country.
Sherif, a financial analyst from New York City whose family emigrated from Egypt, told the World Socialist Web Site, “It is a good thing that there are many people here who are not Egyptian. I am demonstrating because they have no rights there. They cut off the cell phones in Egypt. It is supposedly a democracy, but it is really a dictatorship for thirty years. If I was there, I would be in the streets demonstrating.
“One of my cousins in Egypt disappeared ten years ago,” Sherif added. “He didn’t want to go to the army so they took him, and we never saw him again.”
On the causes of the rebellion, Sherif said, “The US funding for Egypt probably goes straight to Mubarak, not just for his own lifestyle, but to support the whole ruling group. The poverty rate is high and the illiteracy rate is even higher, probably more than 60 percent. There is no money put into education.”
In Dearborn, Michigan, which has a very large Arab population, two hundred assembled on the steps of the City Hall to support the protests. Several people pointed to the role of the Obama administration in continuing to support Mubarak.
“There seems to have been a change,” Dean told the WSWS. “They are killing people for no reason. I don’t know what is going to happen. I think this is just the beginning.”
In France, police reported that 700 people took part in a demonstration in front of the Egyptian embassy in Paris, shouting “Mubarak murderer!” and “Mubarak get out!” according to the AFP.
France and other European countries have joined the United States in supporting Mubarak, while cynically urging the president to implement “reforms” to contain opposition.
Radio France Internationale reported that police rounded up and arrested about 60 of the protesters at the end of the demonstration. RFI cited one witness who said, “A group of about 100 people were being penned in by a large number of police in full riot gear. Every time they tried to raise a chant, the police would squeeze people so they couldn’t.”
France has a large immigrant population from the Middle East and North Africa that is predominantly working class, heavily exploited, and subject to regular police repression.
In London on Saturday about 800 people participated in a demonstration in front of the Egyptian embassy. They were joined by several hundred students who had organized a separate protest against education cuts.
In Canada, about 150 protesters gathered outside the Egyptian consulate in Montreal, while in Calgary a further 200 assembled, and in downtown Toronto, another over 500 more.