Chicagoans Picket Egyptian Consulate

Updated 01/29/11 – 5:25 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — While people continue to protest in the streets of Egypt, hundreds of Chicagoans were rallying outside of the Egyptian consulate in Chicago Saturday afternoon.

A pro-democracy rally started 2 p.m. in front of the Egyptian consulate 500 N. Michigan Av. It’s one of several slated across the U.S. on Saturday.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty Reports

The protesters were calling for Egypt President Hosni Mubarak to step down amid riots in the country. Chicago police estimated that about 600 people were taking part in the rally.

Demonstrators chanted “Hey Mubarak you will see, all Egyptians will be free.” They held signs that said “Victory to the Egyptian people” and “Freedom and Justice for all Egyptians.”

Protester Basma Hassan of Chicago said she is of Egyptian descent and has family in Egypt. The 35-year-old student and mother waved an Egyptian flag, saying he wants to show she supports the Egyptian people. She says the situation in Egypt is “getting out of control.”

Thousands in Egypt have been protesting for five days in a rejection of President Hosni Mubarak.

“People in Chicago should care because the Obama administration is taking a position on this issue. While supporting the rights of the people to express themself, they have at the same time expressed support for the presence of Hosni Mubarak,” Christina Abraham with the Council on American-Islamic Relations said. “And that’s exactly what the people of Egypt do not want anymore. They do not want the rule of a 30-year dictator, they want a democracy.”

Sherif Zaki lived in Egypt for most of his life before moving to Chicago five years ago. Most of his family is still over there.

Zaki told CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli that the fact Mubarak has named a vice president for the first time in his nearly 30 years as president is not enough to appease Egyptians who want him gone. He said the only solution that will end the violence in his homeland is for Mubarak to step down and for Egypt to hold free and fair elections.

“Let’s assume Mubarak is the best president in the world. Isn’t 30 years enough? I always ask myself that question. Isn’t 30 years enough?”

The uprising in Egypt followed one in Tunisia that led to the ouster of that country’s dictator. Now protesters in Egypt want Mubarak to be the next dictator to be brought down by the power of the general public.

Despite the fact that the U.S. has supported the Mubarak regime for decades with tens of billions of dollars in aid, the protesters said it’s time for washington to support ordinary Egyptians.

Elise MacArthur, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago, said, “It’s for the sake of democracy, which has obviously not been going on over there for quite some time; and the people are rising up and demanding their human rights and we stand behind them as our friends and, just as other human beings.”

Chicagoan Regina Fraser, one of the hosts of the PBS series “Grannies on Safari,” traveled to Egypt to see the country’s antiquities and instead found a revolution. It’s been terrifying, she says.

“Seeing mothers and families and children marching peacefully and then seeing them all run in terror from the tear gas — that image will be with me forever in my mind,” Fraser told CBS 2.

She didn’t see anyone get shot, but a photographer travelling with her did. 

“He actually saw someone that was shot and he took several stills of people whose faces were filled with blood,” Fraser said.

Fraser’s tour group is planning on leaving as soon as possible.

Meantime, Illinois National Guard officials said that the 440 Illinois soldiers on a yearlong peace-keeping mission in Egypt have not been seriously affected by the rioting in Cairo and other major Egyptian cities.

The Illinois troops haven’t been able to use commercial communication methods, which the Egyptian government has shut down, but Guard officials in Springfield said they have been in contact with the soldiers.

Guard officials told the State Journal-Register in Springfield that the Illinois troops, who are stationed in the Sinai Peninsula near the Egyptian-Israeli border, have not been targeted during the riots and are hundreds of miles from the unrest.

The Illinois Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment deployed to Egypt in May. About 20 members of the Springfield-based 233rd Military Police Company also have been deployed there.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • Mary Roman

    I wanted to go to the demonstration as an egyptian to support my egyptian people. I was discouraged by the fact that its focus was on Mubarak rather than the egyptian people, carrying a lot of hate messages to him. I asked before the demonstarion that the slogans concentrate more on the people instead of him, but I was met with opposition. Despite this, I went.
    There, I realized, the majority of the protestors were not egyptians, and speaking under our names. The first speaker was Irish speaking of communism and the second speaker was polish attacking washington. I felt obligated to leave the protest because i refuse to support this and I refuse for these people to use us as a way to express what they want. And I later heard that the whole thing was organized by a palestinian organization, no wonder the hatred mentioned about Israel and the USA. I just wanted the readers to know that these were not egyptians and this is not what the egyptians are interested in or support. And when my egyptian friend asked the organizer to say something in the microphone, he refused, saying that they have an agenda for the speakers, who were not egyptian but mostly arabs in the first place.

    • enni22

      Mary, I sympathize with your thoughts on the event. I myself am not Egyptian, but attended for the same reasons as you. One of the difficulties of rallies is that too often people who are a bit over the top/radical get hold of a microphone and put forth their political opinions claiming them to be the opinions of the whole crowd. Then the crowd cheers because they hear other people cheering, though most of them can’t hear what the speaker is saying at all. Unfortunately this is the nature of a rally, but I think that our message got through none the less: that the Egyptian people want justice and liberation, and friends of Egyptians want it for them too.

    • Lovydovy

      you were not at the rally and you are the one that is not Egyptian. The readers are smart and could see the pictures and READ the signs.” No dictatorship, no hypocrisy, yes to democracy.” If you are Egyptian, you would want a dictator like Mubarak to step down after 30 years of emergency rule.

    • rrrrrr

      I see what you’re saying Mary. You have to remember though that if Palestinians organized it, then they have every right to mention the dishonesty and the problems they face because of the unrest in Egypt. Their country has been suffering for years in silence, so if the problems Egypt is facing is related to Palestinians, then of course they’re going to express how it effects them as well. If your Egyptian friend asked to talk into the mic, how many other people do you think asked? The mic can’t just be passed around, they have a certain order they must follow. I understand how this probably others you as an Egyptian, but you have to be logical about the facts behind it, you know? I hope peace and happiness soon comes to Egypt and the injustice stops all over the world, including Palestine.

  • Avg Joe

    …hope a few of them arabs light themselfs on fire or blow them selfs up for jihad…loonies all of them, they shouls all be rounded up and send back to egypt…….

    • rrrr

      Good for you, showing the world how rude you can be.

  • enni22

    Thanks for your coverage of this event. For pictures of the Chicago rally please visit:

  • Rallies for Egypt «

    […] Other rallies have been held across the nation – New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, […]

  • Protests To Resume At Egyptian Consulate « CBS Chicago

    […] Protests were also held outside the consulate on Saturday. The protesters were calling for Egypt President Hosni Mubarak to step down amid riots in the country. Chicago police estimated that about 600 people were taking part in the rally. […]

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