Revolution #224, February 6, 2011

From a Reader:

Report from Chicago Demo in Support of Egypt Uprising

Revolution newspaper received the following letter from some readers in Chicago:

January 29, Chicago IL: From 500 to 1,000 people or more crowded onto the sidewalk in front of the Egyptian Consulate in support of the uprising in Egypt and the wave of protest through Tunisia and other Arab countries. The demonstration mainly took the form of an extended picket line, though often the high-spirited crowd was so tight that no one was able to move.

People bussed or drove themselves and friends from many areas a distance from Chicago—areas such as Urbana in southern Illinois, Bridgeview and Southwest Chicago, Naperville, and as far away as Indiana and Wisconsin and Iowa. There was a mix of international people—of course from Egypt—but also from the Sudan, Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Ireland with people writing on their faces "I am Egyptian."

The crowd was overwhelmingly Arab. It was over half youth, with a mix of students and leftist groups. Egyptian flags were everywhere—they were being passed out by organizers of the protest. Many people were brought to the protest through outreach on Facebook, media alerts, and some from the mosques. A number of the busses were organized from area mosques and a significant percentage, if not the majority, of the Arab women present wore head scarves. In comparison to protests that have been held here in solidarity with Palestine, there were many new faces at this picket line and rally—while crews of students and youth that come out to rallies in support of Palestine were also visibly present.

The leading political slogan was "Mubarak must go NOW!!" and the political struggle was overwhelmingly viewed as "Democracy vs. Dictatorship." This was on the pre-printed signs provided by organizers and taken up by the crowd. There was an infectious sentiment of joy in standing up for a new day for Egypt—and an expectation that this new day wasn't far off. People chanted, "Brick by brick, wall by wall—we will see Mubarak fall!!" Emotions were intense. Older Egyptian men in their 40s and 50s had tears in their eyes.

Some of the people we talked to expressed anger over the horrors of the economic situation and the corruption of the Mubarak government. There was a distinct Pan-Arab nationalist influence throughout the protest. Some people expressed the sentiment that this revolution was not just for Egyptians; that protests started in Tunisia, then broke out in Egypt, and that this movement was for everyone. This was expressed by several of the young speakers from the stage. Many of the people we talked to did not make the connection between the role of U.S. imperialism and the support it has given Mubarak. There was more talk of corruption and government repression by the Mubarak regime.

Egyptians living here in the U.S. from various organizations came forward in this wave of opposition to Mubarak and the current regime. There was the Egyptian Americans for Democracy, the Egyptian-American Society, the Young Egyptians Society and the Urbana Egyptian Community Organization. There was also a representative from a group called "The Tunisian Community Organization." One of the speakers was Dr. M. Cherif Bassiouni, who recently published a book on the Bush regime and torture (Institutionalization of Torture Under the Bush Administration) and is the President of the Egyptian-American Society. A message from the Director of the Chicago Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which he had dictated from the streets of Cairo, was read. More than a dozen groups spoke at the rally. There was a large turnout of younger Arab people at the protest and many of the speakers and spokespeople for the organizations were in their twenties.

A crew of us got out 120 copies of the special issue of Revolution containing Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (issue #143, September 21, 2008, also available as a pamphlet); 280 pluggers for the Constitution For The New Socialist Republic In North America (Draft Proposal); and 120 copies of the broadsheet The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have—A Message, And A Call, From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

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