Armed with signs demanding democracy and the topple of Egyptâ€™s President Hosni Mubarak, protesters took to the streets Friday â€“â€“ not in Cairo but in Fort Collins.
Led by Egyptian and Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology Tawfik Aboellail, about 40 Egyptians, international students and their supporters gathered on the Plaza in a display of solidarity for their brethren embroiled in revolution in Egypt.
â€œIâ€™m here because Iâ€™m Egyptian, and Iâ€™m here to support all the Egyptians over there,â€ said marcher Herd Ibrahim.
Freshman psychology major Moonier Said was one of the younger members of the group, which included mostly middle-age men and a few women. Said said the march was important to spread awareness about Egyptâ€™s situation to college students who might not know much about whatâ€™s going on.
â€œThe world is changing rapidly,â€ he said as students streamed past the front of the Lory Student Center. Students need to prepare themselves for change, he said, and educate themselves so theyâ€™re not ignorant and so everyone is equipped to solve the problems the future holds.
Though the number of protesters on the Plaza was small, Aboellail, whoâ€™s an American citizen, said the goal of the march was to raise awareness about the situation in Egypt. On Friday for the 11th straight day, protesters calling for an immediate end to Mubarakâ€™s 30-year reign swarmed the capitolâ€™s Tahrir Square â€“â€“ their numbers in the hundreds of thousands despite brutal street fighting between the protesters and armed, pro-Mubarak thugs that left hundreds dead and many more wounded on Wednesday and Thursday.
â€œItâ€™s something that make me very proud to be an Egyptian,â€ said Salah Abdul-Ghany, holding a pro-democracy sign above his head.
Fridayâ€™s protests were peaceful following intense international criticism of the violence in the days before, particularly after many of the pro-Mubarak thugs were discovered to have links to the government and police force. Aboellail said he was spirited for the march Friday after the international condemnation and end of street fighting.
On Tuesday, Mubarak gave a televised address, condemning the protesters but promising not to run for re-election again in September. His address did little to placate the pro-democracy masses, however, so Aboelail said Mubarak has resorted to 16th-century tactics â€“â€“ using camels and horses to brutalize peaceful protesters in an attempt to cling to power amid mounting popular pressure.
â€œHe has been crazy for 30 years,â€ Aboellail said. â€œI was afraid they would kill every college student in the square. I was devastated.â€
But Aboellail, whose whole family lives in Egypt and has joined in the protests during the day, said he said heâ€™s optimistic democracy will usurp Mubarak in the coming days.
â€œI hope they will oust him with all his government, and weâ€™ll have democracy like Obama hoped in his famous lecture (in Egypt),â€ Aboellail said, referring to President Barack Obamaâ€™s speech in Cairo in 2009, one of his first international stops after his inauguration.
Egyptâ€™s rebellion began about two weeks after the fall of Tunisiaâ€™s former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled the country for 23-years, and Aboellail said the revolution in the Middle East wonâ€™t end with Tunisia and Egypt. Instead, he said he expects to see a ripple effect, where regional dictators continue to fall in the months ahead.