“Mubarak, Mubarak, what do you say? How many people jailed today?”
This was one of the many chants voiced by protesters on the Diag Friday afternoon.
Starting at 3:30 p.m., around 80 people — including representatives from several student organizations — gathered in the Diag to protest the long-standing regime of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak.
The on-campus protest came in response to reports of civil unrest in Egypt over the past few days, which saw a wave of citizen protests calling for Mubarak’s resignation. In response to protesters, Mubarak’s administration has reportedly set a nationwide curfew as well as shut down the country’s Internet and cell phone services.
During a televised press conference Friday morning, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton criticized the Egyptian government for its reported use of violence against protesters.
“The Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away,” Clinton said.
To voice their concerns over the issue, University students took to the Diag.
Though University police officers were stationed on the Diag to monitor the protests, police said their presence was merely a precautionary measure. The demonstration proceeded without police intervention.
At the event, Mohamed Mattar, an Engineering junior and president of the University’s Egyptian Students Association, said he’s happy Egyptian citizens have chosen to rise up and have their voices heard.
“People are actually standing up for their rights,” Mattar said.
According to Mattar, the crisis in Egypt is mainly the result of frustration among young people who are unable to find jobs in the country’s poor economy.
Mattar added that he believes the protests in Egypt will lead to more citizen-led political reform movements across the Middle East.
“It’s already having a ripple effect,” Mattar said. “But we don’t know what the outcome in different countries is going to be.”
Mattar added that he was encouraged by the number of people who attended the event on Friday.
“The number of people around here is just shocking to me,” Mattar said.
Mohamed El-Sayed, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, led the group of protesters in an Arabic chant.
El-Sayed said the chant translated into English as, “Down for Mubarak’s regime, long live Egypt.”
El-Sayed added that he believes the crisis in Egypt is the result of a lack of democracy and a corrupt regime.
“(Mubarak) has been in power for 30 years,” El-Sayed said. “There is no democracy that allows somebody to rule for 30 years.”
Like Mattar, El-Sayed said he was impressed with the turnout and student interest in the issue.
“It just shows that (students) are fully aware of what’s going on,” El-Sayed said.
LSA senior Noha Moustafa also commended the turnout at the protest, calling it “a testament to the student activism that is on this campus.”
Moustafa, who is also a member of the Egyptian Students Association, said she supports the Egyptian citizens who have decided to express their pent-up frustration with Mubarak’s administration.
“I’m glad that the people are finally able to do something about the oppressive regime,” Moustafa said.