Sizeable turnout for Amsterdam demo in support of Egypt’s people

5 February 2011

Sizeable turnout for Amsterdam demo in support of Egypt’s people

'We demand an end to the state of emergency which has been in force in Egypt for more than thirty years. This has enabled the Mubarak regime to lock up anyone it wants to for years, without trial, and without anyone knowing about the detainee’s fate. That cannot be. There are more than four thousand people of our movement in Egyptian prisons.’ So said Cherif Osman, representative in the Netherlands of Egypt’s 6th April Movement during his address to today’s demonstration ‘Democracy and Freedom in Egypt Now!’

Around a thousand demonstrators, including citizens of Egyptian, Moroccan and Tunisian descent as well as very many indigenous Dutch people , were on the Dam in Amsterdam this afternoon for the extremely lively demonstration, cheered along by a series of mass chants and songs of freedom. The slogans on the placards - some in Arabic, some in Dutch, some in English - made it clear what this was all about: ‘Mubarak out, democracy in’, ‘Dictatorship is deadly’ and ‘Protection against Mubarak supporters’, the latter held aloft by a man wearing a pan on his head, in the style of the Cairo protestors.

The gathering, at which the SP was well-represented, was held in support of an Egyptian population which has had enough of the dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak. “Our most urgent demand: the Mubarak regime must go. He has become a symbol of everything that is rotten,” said Osman. He explained how the 6th April Movement came into being in 2008 in order to support a strike called by a free trade union in the town of Mahalla. Now, almost three years later, the movement is playing a key role in Egypt’s popular uprising.

Political columnist Karin Spaink praised the will to freedom of the Egyptian people and the way they had put modern social media to good use. Such media were, however, not the determining factor. This was rather the irrepressible will of a people that has had enough of oppression and is struggling for democracy.

Ab Jafaari from the Moroccan organisation ENCEMO said that it was not only the Egyptian people who were rising in revolt but those of Tunisia and Yemen too. “We are all Egyptians,” Jafaari asserted. Algeria and Morocco would follow. He called on the Dutch government to end support to the regimes in all of these countries. Expressing support from the podium for the slogans on the placards carried by the crowd, he praised the SP as the party in the Netherlands which stands up for international solidarity.

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, who gave the closing address, stressed that it was the West which had kept the regime in Egypt in the saddle with its economic and military support. “The Americans support the Egyptian armed forces to the tune of 1.5 billion dollars a year in weapons,” he said. “Europe supports Egypt with 200 million euros a year. The Netherlands has, in the last twenty years, sold them almost a thousand armoured vehicles, which there is now a threat will be used against the Egyptian people.” Van Bommel said that it was Mubarak who had brought about the chaos. “Mubarak states that he must remain in order to prevent chaos. Do we want the peace and order of a dictatorship or the vivacity and sometimes the untidiness that is democracy?” Van Bommel accused Prime Minister Mark Rutte of standing behind Mubarak and called on the Dutch government to put an immediate end to this.

At the end of the gathering the news that Mubarak and the executive of his party had resigned from their party positions caused huge joy in the crowd, but the demand remained: Mubarak must resign from the presidency. Democracy and Freedom in Egypt. Now!

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