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Protesters in US Seek New Policies Toward Middle East

Protesters in Washington demanded both Mr. Mubarak's ouster and a change in U.S. policy.
Protesters in Washington demanded both Mr. Mubarak's ouster and a change in U.S. policy.

While massive protests continue in Egypt, regular demonstrations demanding the ouster of three-decade President Hosni Mubarak have also taken place in major cities in the United States. Dozens of protesters gathered in Washington Saturday to also demand a change of U.S. policies in the Middle East.

Egyptian and American protestors braved cold and rainy weather for a gathering outside the Egyptian embassy. Many of them had taken a bus from the northern state of Michigan.

K.C. Kahirfan said it was important to take part in Egypt's ongoing people power movement against authoritarian rule. "When one country is having this issue, we really need to stand up for it because other countries which are under oppressive regimes, they will have hope. It is an example for everybody, how to go about it, with a peaceful and non-violent protest," she said.

"We want justice. We want justice," said Syrian-born Summer Saadedeem, who stood next to her and chimed in, also said Americans should not be afraid a popular revolt is taking place in a mostly Muslim country. "I do not care about the religion. I do not care about the race. I do not care about color. I just stand with justice, no matter. If you are a human being that is it. You have to respect the human being."

One of those joining the chants was Talaat Pasha. He said he had to leave Egypt to finish his studies in the United States, after being jailed for organizing social activities in his home country.

Pasha said it was not only time for President Mubarak to leave power, it was also time for the U.S. government to stop giving so much support to authoritarian rulers in the Middle East, as it also did in previous decades in Iraq and Iran.

"(Mr.) Mubarak is not the first. Saddam (Hussein from Iraq) was before him. The Shah of Iran was before him. So many too count, too many to count. And they know they are dictators and actually part of my dissertation was about that the U.S. government has, the government not the people, the U.S. government has been supporting dictators and they know they are dictators but as long as it supports their interests, they keep them, even knowing that they are corrupt, they are dictators and they are against democracy," he said.

The U.S. government has given Egypt, which it views as a close ally to ensure stability in the Middle East, an average of $2 billion annually since 1979.

Watch a Related Video from VOA's Luis Ramirez

U.S. President Obama has called on an orderly transition process to take place in his words "right now" ahead of elections scheduled for September, but he has stopped short of calling on Mr. Mubarak, who has said he will not run again, to step down immediately.

A U.S. government envoy who spent the past week in Egypt, former ambassador Frank Wisner, said Saturday Mr. Mubarak's continued leadership is crucial to help Egypt transition to democracy.

Opposition activists in Egypt say they do not think an election prepared with Mr. Mubarak in power can be free and fair.