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Hundreds gather in NYC to demand Mubarak step down

From Allan Chernoff, CNN
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Egyptian-Americans and others in New York's Times Square on Friday protest Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and past U.S. support for him.
  • Hundreds gathered in Times Square, criticizing Egyptian government
  • Protest included non-Egyptian contingent
  • The U.S. provides Egypt with more than $1 billion in military aid annually

(CNN) -- Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Friday in Manhattan's Times Square, criticizing the Egyptian government and past U.S. support for the country's embattled president Hosni Mubarak.

The mix of protesters included a non-Egyptian contingent that carried anti-government placards and shouted slogans like "Free, Free Egypt!" while protesting U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

New Jersey resident and Cairo native Khalid Hassan, 46, carried a sign that read, "Down with Camp David Regime!" -- a reference to a pair of peace agreements signed in 1978 between former Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

"I'm very optimistic," Hassan said, who praised U.S. diplomatic efforts to encourage a peaceful transition of power in Egypt. "So far, so good," he said.

The protests coincide with week-long anti-government rallies in Egypt where demonstrators clashed with riot police and pro government demonstrators following similar rallies in neighboring Tunisia that toppled that country's government.

The United States recently stepped up pressure on opposition groups to begin immediate negotiations with the Egyptian government, recognizing the orderly transition to democracy could prove difficult if Mubarak steps down immediately.

The U.S. provides Egypt with more than $1 billion in military aid annually.