Yalies show support for Egypt

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Photo by Sagar Setru.

About 60 Yale students gathered in Beinecke Plaza Monday for a rally held in support of protestors in Egypt.

The group congregated to chant in solidarity with the Egyptian protesters, who are demanding that 30-year President Hosni Mubarak step down to make way for a more democratic system. Leaders of the Yale protest said they hope to encourage the Obama administration to more firmly support the demonstrators in Egypt and ensure that U.S. funding does not contribute to pro-Mubarak resistance.

“I hope that if enough people across the nation are doing this, Obama may notice,” said Omar Mumallah ’12, who helped organized the protest.

Students and a few faculty members chanted, “Obama listen up, Hosni Mubarak’s time is up!” and, “Democracy not hypocrisy!”

Several gave speeches about the political situation. Bassem Khalifa FES ’12, who held the floor for the longest time, argued that a transition to Suleiman, who Khalife called the “torturer in chief” for his work as Egypt’s former intelligence head, would not suffice. He said the protesters deserve gains such as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and increased freedom to form new political parties. He concluded his speech by urging Americans to contact their representatives in government and encourage them to take a strong stance on the side of democracy, and received a roar of applause from the crowd.

Students in attendance said they joined the protest because they believe events in Egypt represent a crucial moment in history.

“It’s an important and topical issue, and something that is good to be involved with as a student,” Jackie Outka ’12 said.

The United States has seen many similar movements in recent weeks in cities such as San Franscisco, Calif., and Dallas, Texas.

Mumallah added that the Obama administration has taken positive steps by supporting a peaceful transition from the rule of Mubarak to current Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, but he said he hopes demonstrations in the United States will encourage more substantial aid to reformists.

Some Yale Law School students who attended the protest are also organizing their own solidarity efforts, accumulating signatures on a statement condemning the violence that some of Mubarak’s supporters have used against the protesters in Egypt. Law professor Laurel Fletcher, who signed the statement that began circulating Friday, said students in the United States should feel a connection to the youth-driven movement in Egypt.

“It is important that there are these bridges between students in the United States and students in Egypt,” she said.

The statement had amassed 137 signatures as of Monday night.

Diala Shamas LAW ’11, who helped draft the statement, said she hopes it will lead to discussion on campus about how the United States can play a role in Egypt’s transition. She added that reports that the Egyptian government has incited attacks against demonstrators make it especially important for law students and professors worldwide to call for the respect of human rights.

“They’re subtle issues, and I don’t pretend to have the answers but they’re important,” said Law School lecturer Gene Fidell, who signed the petition.

On Tuesday Tarek Masoud, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, will join Yale political science professors Adria Lawrence and Ellen Lust and history lecturer Adel Allouche for a discussion about the unrest in the Middle East at 4 p.m. in the Law School’s Levinson Auditorium.

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