Activists Support Egyptian Uprising

Photo: Campus groups held a demonstration on Sproul Plaza to show solidarity and raise campus awareness about the protests in Egypt.
Emma Lantos/Staff
Campus groups held a demonstration on Sproul Plaza to show solidarity and raise campus awareness about the protests in Egypt.

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Carrying signs on wooden stems raised high above their heads, about 150 student activists and community members gathered in Upper Sproul Plaza Monday to show solidarity and raise campus awareness about ongoing anti-government protests in Egypt.

Organized by the UC Berkeley Muslim Students Association political action committee and Students for Justice in Palestine, the rally followed a "die-in" staged in front of Sather Gate last Thursday to raise awareness about the Egyptian uprising.

Armed with a message and a megaphone, demonstrators began by knitting themselves into a circle, chanting slogans led by representatives of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition including "Hey Mubarak, you should know: The Egyptian people want you to go!"

They then gathered to hear 13 speakers - including campus faculty, students and members of the MSA, ANSWER Coalition, By Any Means Necessary and Amnesty International.

Demonstrators said raising campus sympathy and identification with the Egyptian struggle was a major goal.

"We just wanted to tell Berkeley students that ... this is your problem as well," said Fatima Mekkaoui, a junior sociology major and demonstration organizer. "The U.S. government is sending money to Egypt, and we're paying the price."

People passing through the plaza paused to observe the demonstration and listen to speeches, and many said they are now better informed of the protests' historical context.

"I didn't know what (the demonstrators) were talking about," said UC Berkeley freshman John Kachiu. "Now I know ... They're bitching about something of legitimate concern."

Freshmen Jessica Chen and Maggie Lin said they were moved by the emotional aspects of the rally.

"This guy was talking about how his friend got shot in the eye," Lin said. "That's the kind of thing you don't hear in news reports."

Despite the demonstration's success in raising awareness, organizers said their work is not done. Asking the campus administration for an official declaration of support for the Egyptian people is their next step - although they said they must first "make them care," Mekkaoui said.

Theresa Adams of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


Noor Al-Samarrai covers Berkeley communities. Contact her at [email protected]

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