Residents of Boston and Cambridge congregated in Harvard Square on Saturday to decry American support for Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, in a protest that channeled the spirit of ongoing revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
Morsi, elected to the Egyptian presidency in June of this year, has been subject to a maelstrom of controversy since asserting what opponents deem dictatorial policies over the Egyptian judiciary.
“We’ve gathered here today because of what’s happening in Egypt,” said Rafaat Mousad, one of the leaders of the protest. “We denounce the oppressive dictatorship of the new president, Mohamed Morsi, and the fact that he is trying to work out a new constitution that will marginalize all minorities.”
Critics are particularly concerned about Morsi’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic organization with branches in many Arab nations.
“The supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are extreme even for extremists,” said Noha Roushdy, one of the protesters.
Bundled in coats and hats against the snow and waving Egyptian flags, the crowd of about thirty chanted in Arabic and brandished signs with slogans such as “Do NOT Support the Dictator,” and “From Harvard to Tahrir Square: Power Grab is not Fair.”
Boston and Cambridge residents of Egyptian descent organized the protest, which—like the uprisings in Egypt itself—was coordinated primarily through social media.
Protesters shared information over a Facebook page called ‘Egyptians in Boston,’ which currently has close to 900 members. According to Mousad, the page has facilitated many similar events.
In addition to protesters’ indignation at what they called “tyrannical” acts by Morsi, those assembled expressed concern for the potential complications of the United States’ current support of the leader.
“We have one message to the United States government,” said Mousad. “Do not empower and enable oppressive regimes. We did that with the Taliban in Afghanistan during the Cold War to help us fight the Soviets. What did they do? They turned on us.”
The call for a shift in American policies towards Morsi’s presidency was a sentiment expressed throughout the protest.
“I would not like to see this nation supporting this dictator and making the same mistakes as the past,” said Tamer Elshayal, a student at the Graduate School of Design. “America is only hurting its reputation in the region by claiming to be pro-democracy while supporting tyranny.”
Protesters expressed concern that Morsi’s action could threaten the progress made during last year’s revolution.
“We just don’t want Morsi in power, deleting everything that the revolution has fought so hard for,” said Roushdy. “We do not want another Mubarak.”