ISU students protest Egyptian government on campus


Photo: Matt Wettengel/Iowa State Daily

Children participated in Friday’s protest in the free speech zone in front of Parks Library. The protesters wanted to raise awareness about the political unrest and the treatment of demonstrators in Egypt.

Katherine Marcheski

A peaceful protest was held Friday, Jan. 28 in the free speech zone in front of Parks library to raise awareness of the political unrest that took place in Egypt this week.

The demonstration attracted a crowd of at least 50 people at any given time and encouraged outsiders’ participation. 

Members of the Egyptian Student Association and local community supporters gathered in efforts to protest the brutalities and misconducts that were committed against the people of Egypt.

It was an act promoting peace and solidarity for the protesters in Egypt who were harmed by authorities for their demonstrations against the government. Citizens were shot at, tear gassed, beaten, arrested and some even killed as a result of their activism.

Internet and phone services were disconnected in Egypt on Thursday, Jan. 27 and remain inaccessible, causing an uproar with civilians who are unable to make contact with friends and family.

Omar Manci, an Ames resident and Iowa State graduate, was one of the main speakers at the event.

“[The authorities] put a lockdown on information coming in and out of Egypt”, Manci said. “This was an effort [by the government] to stop people from organizing and coming out and protesting.”

Friday’s demonstration was to express the deep concern for the fate of Egypt and to bring awareness to Americans during this critical time.

Americans have rights that Egyptians have been deprived of for years,  Manci said. President Mubarak has been in power for over 30 years and the people want change.

“It is not about economics or power, it is about the human and political freedoms that are being deprived”, Manci said.

Citizens of Egypt have been struggling through unemployment, illiteracy and corruption with little positive support from outside forces, said Anwar Mohamed, president of the Egyptian Student Association and graduate student in political science. Americans are fueling these tragedies through their taxes.

“Eighty million people live in Egypt, and $1.3 billion is sent from America each year to fuel them with weapons against their own people,” Mohamed said.

Americans need to be more aware of what is happening in Egypt and how to stop the oppression, Mohamed said.

“They will see something in the people of Iowa State, we are complaining of ignorance,” Manci said. “We need to ask them to side with freedom and democracy.”

A major fear with the Middle East and Egypt, more specifically, is that it will fall apart if the U.S. leaves physically and monetarily.

“Egypt has been a country for 7,000 years. We built the pyramids,” said Eyman Fayed, another speaker at the protest. “The country is not going to fall apart. It is not just going to slide.”

The protesters in Egypt and abroad are driven by freedom, Mohamed said, not by politics or economy. It is the people’s job to convey a message of support and solidarity.

Nathan Kaloupek, sophomore in linguistics, came out to the rally in support of his teacher, Mohamed.

“I love the fact that this is going on here,” Kaloupek said. “We need to support what’s happening and like Anwar said, the whole Middle East could change. The students need to know, and more Americans need to see this and take part in the mission. Egypt is in the crossroads; geographically, economically and politically.” 

“The protests that have been taking place are apart of years of corruption. Everyone is mad,” Mohamed said. “I hope that people [in Egypt] will see we are supporting them and want to convey our voices in Iowa, and to Congress, to the White House and say what is happening is wrong. American foreign policy is turning a blind eye to Egypt.”

The group hopes that their demonstration spread their message across campus and the state.