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Egyptian-American leaders call for U.S. support of 'Lotus Revolution'

By the CNN Wire staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Egyptian-American activists call on President Barack Obama to "stand on the right side of history"
  • Prominent dissident dubs Egyptian protests the "Lotus Revolution"
  • Protests planned in New York City, New Jersey and Washington

(CNN) -- As public protests against the Mubarak regime spread from Cairo to New York City, Egyptian-American activists on Friday called on the Obama adminstration to back the "Lotus Revolution" to oust the authoritarian ruler.

They also called on President Hosni Mubarak's government to end its purported practices of detentions, torture and "extrajudicial killings."

"This day, I assure you, will be mentioned in history as a point of change all over the Middle East, said Mokhtar Kamel. "Gone are the old days where antiquated brutal regimes are controlling the area."

"To those in the United States and in the West who are quoting stability as an excuse for brutality. Guys, this is too late," Kamel said. "You have to change your mentality."

Kamel, vice president of the Coalition of Egyptian Organizations in North America, was one of several Egyptian-American activists to appear at the National Press Club in Washington Friday to talk about the protests.

The press club event coincided with planned protests against the Mubarak regime in New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Washington.

Kamel and others spoke with alarm and excitement over the protests taking place in their home country. They blasted the Egyptian government for using violence to suppress the demonstrations. They accused pro-goverment "thugs" of setting fire to cars and blaming the acts on protesters.

Dina Guirguis, an Egyptian-American and a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told reporters that Egypt is currently under a "communication blackout."

"Internet service has been shut off completely since last night and mobile phone service as well," Guirguis said. "So many of us here have relatives back home, including myself. I have no idea where my brother is."

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Samia Harris, a founder of the Alliance of Egyptian Americans (AEA), appealed directly to top U.S. officials to change course in their response to the Egyptian crisis.

"Mr. Obama," Harris said, "please, please stand on the right side of history. Stand by the Egyptian people."

To Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Harris said, "Mrs. Clinton, we know you are a good mom, there are a lot of girls, Egyptian girls in the street that are being beaten right now ... Mrs. Clinton, take your place in history and do what you can to stop the violence in Egypt."

Harris and other speakers hailed their former countrymen for their uncharacteristic bravery in taking to the streets to protest the Mubarak regime.

"For a long time, the Egyptian people were silent by fear. They were afraid," said Ibrahim Hussein, vice president of the mid-Atlantic chapter of AEA. "In the past three days this jail of fear in the Egyptian psyche has been broken and people are free to speak and to demonstrate."

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a leading Egyptian human rights activist who was imprisoned for his criticism of Mubarak, called the protests taking place in his home country the "Lotus Revoluton."

"The lotus is the flower that was highly appreciated by ancient Egyptians," said Ibrahim. "I'd like to salute our people. I'd like to pay tribute to all Egyptians fallen under the guns of Mubarak."

Ibrahim said Mubarak has "successfully duped Western governments as being the bulwark against terrorism, against extremism and the bulwark for peace."

"Mubarak in 30 years," said Ibrahim, "did not advance the peace one inch."

 
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