Accessibility links


Obama: History Unfolding in Egypt

President Barack Obama speaks at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan, February 10, 2011

United States supports an 'orderly and genuine transition' to democracy in Egypt, says Obama

President Obama says the United States supports an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt. The president spoke during a brief visit to the U.S. state of Michigan where he promoted a National Wireless Initiative mentioned in his State of the Union Address.

The president's statement about fast-moving events in Egypt came at the top of his remarks at Northern Michigan University, where he traveled to promote a National Wireless Initiative.

The local government headquarters is set on fire by protesters, claiming delays on requests for housing in Port Said, Egypt, February 10, 2011
The local government headquarters is set on fire by protesters, claiming delays on requests for housing in Port Said, Egypt, February 10, 2011

With television screens showing tens of thousands of people in Cairo preparing for a speech by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Obama said the world is watching history take place as the Egyptian people demand change.

"It is a moment of transformation that is taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change," he said. "They have turned out in extraordinary numbers, representing all ages and all walks of life, but it is young people who have been at the forefront, a new generation, your generation, who want their voices to be heard."

The president said the United States wants young people in Egypt and all Egyptians to know that America will continue to do everything to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy.

Earlier, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama and his advisers were watching developments as they occurred. Obama received a telephone briefing earlier from National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

After his remarks about Egypt, President Obama spoke about the inter-connectedness of the world and his initiative to bring high-speed broadband access to 98 percent of Americans.

Comparing the United States to South Korea, where he said more than 90 percent of homes have high-speed broadband, the president said "the lights are still off" in one third of American households.

Obama said high-speed wireless service will spark new innovation, investments and ultimately help create jobs.

"This is not just about a faster internet or being able to friend someone on Facebook. It is about connecting every corner of America to the digital age," he said. "It is about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers can monitor weather across the state and markets across the globe. It is about an entrepreneur on Main Street with a great idea she hopes to sell to the big city," continued Obama, "it is about every young person who no longer has to leave his hometown to seek new opportunity - because it is right at his fingertips.

The president compared his National Wireless Initiative to a call by John F. Kennedy who, while campaigning for president in Michigan in 1960, spoke about the importance of America being first.

He tempered his message about the need to, in his words, "up our game" and "win the future" with another reminder of steps he has taken to cut down on unnecessary and wasteful government spending.

Obama again mentioned his call to freeze annual domestic spending over the next five years, to the lowest level as measured against Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since the Eisenhower administration. But the president said spending should not be reduced in key areas that will help create jobs and grow the economy in the long run, such as education, innovation and infrastructure improvements.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.