Hundreds of Egyptian Americans protested in front of the White House and marched through the streets of Washington, D.C. Saturday, urging President Obama to stand against newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The protest came as Morsi sought to ease tensions in Egypt by removing part of the decree that awarded him near-absolute control.
After a contentious election process, many in Egypt were suspicious that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood sought to be the dominant political power. Morsi soon took steps to solidify that political dominance. In November, he caused a mass uprising by annulling several constitutional amendments that restricted his power – including an amendment that provided judicial oversight of his actions.
Although Morsi has replaced his initial decree with a modified version, his initial power grab has left many Egyptians uneasy.
“Morsi’s declaration on 22 November, as well as the draft constitution planned to be voted on in a referendum are an absolute shame to anything that we can even call a democracy,” said Miriam Aziz, an international student from Egypt attending American University. Aziz was one of hundreds who protested outside the White House.
“It is by all means a populist tyranny and a dictatorship,” Aziz said of Morsi’s administration. “We are here to raise our voices and echo the voices of our brothers and sisters and family and friends in Egypt protesting this.”
Aside from a Dec. 6 call to Morsi, President Obama has largely been silent on the uprising in Egypt. During the call, Obama urged all political leaders in Egypt to denounce violence. He also urged an open dialogue between Morsi and his opposition, but stressed that the dialogue should occur without preconditions.
Protesters in front of the White House urged President Obama to do more.
“We are gathering right here so that we get Mr. Obama to act upon this. So far he has been almost silent,” said Nader Tadros, an Egyptian American. “We need [Mr. Obama] to take some actions. Specifically, we need him to lift his support of the Muslim Brotherhood, come out and talk and condemn the violence, and lift his recognition of them as the legitimate government.
“This is a very high stake for [the U.S.],” Tadros continued. “Losing the Egyptians is going to be a huge loss for the U.S. interests in the region. Betting on the wrong group is not the right thing. Betting against democracy is not the right thing.”
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