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Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011
Egyptian community backs protests at home
By ALEX MARTIN
Representatives of the Egyptian community in Japan expressed support Friday for the widespread protests in their homeland targeting President Hosni Mubarak's regime.
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, four Egyptians living here called for Mubarak's immediate ouster and pressed for democratic parliamentary elections, expressing sympathy for the youths on the streets of Cairo and other cities.
Reda Kenawy, president of Air 1 Travel, said that while there are only around 300 Egyptians currently residing in Japan, the small community is unified in its support for the movement to topple Mubarak's 30-year-rule.
Kenawy also said it is time younger people are given a fair chance to lead.
"Ninety percent of Egyptians living in Japan have successful businesses . . . because the system here allows anybody to succeed. If you are good enough, you can," he said. "But we had to leave our country because we could not do this in Egypt, because we did not come from rich families, and could not defeat the police."
Clashes between pro- and antigovernment protesters have grown increasingly violent in recent days, and the death toll since the protests began Jan. 25 is estimated to have surpassed 300.
Reports indicate that gangs backing Mubarak have attacked journalists and human rights activists.
"We are suffering from the most scary thing that can happen to any society, which is to be controlled by police — a police government can make anybody's life a nightmare," Kenawy said.
Mubarak has announced he won't seek re-election in September, but protesters have been demanding that he step down immediately.
The Egyptian community in Tokyo has also been vocal in its calls against Mubarak's rule.
On Jan. 29, a crowd of Egyptian students rallied in front of the embassy in Meguro Ward, displaying placards calling for democracy and Mubarak's ouster.
Ahmed El Kholy, an Egyptian business executive in Tokyo who also spoke at the FCCJ, said Egyptians are disgusted with how power is centralized with government ministers who also control large companies and dominate industries such as transportation, tourism and steel.