MIAMI (CBS4) — Egypt, historically known as the “land of bondage” is under siege by citizens who say they are trying to break a modern form of bondage – the 30-year regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Mubarak has been the target of ongoing protests that have filled the streets of Egypt’s major cities with cries demanding he step down. More than 100 people have been killed so far.
In Miami people from a variety of backgrounds gathered Saturday at the Torch of Friendship, but these voices were not raised in anger, instead they came together in a show of support for the protesters overseas.
“A people united will never be defeated,” was the call.
The theme: Change in Egypt.
“I had colleagues and friends who were in college with me, who would come back to class with scars from being beaten by the police,” said Egyptian-American Activist Neveen Nawawy.
Muhammed Malik, the co-chairman of the Miami-Dade Green Party also said “I have two friends who are Egyptians, who were tortured, who are human rights activists who were tortured under the Mubarak regime.”
The Egyptian protests were largely coordinated through social networking sites and on Twitter, prompting the government to shut access to those services. President Barack Obama has asked that those services be restored, and even threatened to pull aid to Egypt if things turn bloody.
“I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters,” Obama said Friday. “I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service, and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st Century.”
Cutting off access to the outside world is just one of the abuses Egyptians have suffered under Mubarak, activists said.
“And the Egyptian people are sick of it. They are tired of having the same ruler. And there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and the poor are helpless,” Nawawy said.
As protests spread across the Middle East from Tunisia to Egypt, Yemen and beyond, one South Floridian reflects on the deeper meaning of it all.
“We’re very thankful for the people of Egypt for doing this. I want them to stay on until this guy is out of power,” said Hesham Ali of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida.
Michael Martines showed up to show solidarity with the Egyptian’s struggle.
“We should take that foreign aid and help the Egyptian people liberate themselves and establish democracy,” Martines said.