About 100 people rallied at Pioneer Courthouse Square this afternoon, demonstrating against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and urging the White House to be harder on the Mubarak regime.
As popular protests racked Egypt for the fifth straight day, supporters of the Egyptian protesters held rallies in solidarity across the United States and the globe. In Portland, members of the local Egyptian community and their supporters waved Egyptian flags and held signs reading "Democracy for Egypt" and "Egypt We Hear You."
Their chants targeted Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt with an authoritarian hand for 30 years. "The people want Mubarak out!" protesters called. They continued: "Then Mubarak, you will see, you will follow Ben-Ali," referencing deposed Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced out of power earlier this month after convulsive protests.
Attendees said their aims were twofold—first, to show solidarity with Egyptians, and second, to pressure the Obama administration to take a tougher line against Mubarak.
"I'm so frustrated by Obama and the White House," said Rany Elsayed, an Egyptian who came to the United States in 1999 and now works as a physics researcher at Intel. "Obama has to choose—does he want Mubarak or does he want Egypt? Either you support democracy or you support Mubarak."
A few steps away, Elsayed's mother, visiting from Egypt, had joined her son. She would not give her name and declined to answer questions.
"She's afraid," Elsayed said. "She's afraid of political repression when she gets back to Egypt."
Protesters Abeer Sayed and her husband Ahmed Raslan left Egypt in 2004 to pursue educational opportunities here. Sayed's brothers have joined the protests in Cairo—one suffered a minor injury after a rubber bullet hit his knee. Though it remains uncertain if Mubarak will be overthrown, Raslan called these protests a major step.
"Whatever happens, there will be a change in the psyche of the people," he said. "This is the beginning of the end of the regime."