Organizer says support for Egyptian rallies in Yonge-Dundas grew on Facebook

Lemme Ibrahim looks toward a crowd of hundreds gathered at Yonge-Dundas Square Saturday afternoon in celebration of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. She says she has trouble believing it was only two weeks ago when she sat at a coffee shop with a friend and discussed putting together a rally in support of freedom and democracy in Egypt.

“Being Egyptian, my friend and I felt that we needed to make a difference and support the people of Egypt. So we decided to organize these events,” Ibrahim said. “We put an event page on Facebook and it just snowballed from there.”

Their Facebook page caught the eyes of hundreds of Torontonians — several of whom are members of the Egyptian-Canadian community — as well as organizations like the Canadian Peace Alliance and the Egyptian National Movement for Change. Demonstrators gathered at Yonge and Dundas on Jan. 30, chanting their disdain towards the 30-year Mubarak regime.

On Saturday, they arrived at the same place, same time, but in different spirits. Rather than expressing anger, demonstrators were jubilant and respectful. The event was scheduled as both a celebration and an elegy.

“People are excited. They have a renewed inspiration to be involved in the new Egypt,” Ibrahim said. “But this celebration is also a vigil in memories for the people that lost their lives during the Egyptian protests and leading up to the protests.”

Several demonstrators said they are hopeful Mubarak’s resignation will bring a new democratic era in Egypt. Among them was 25-year-old, Egyptian-Canadian Assma Elkowessny.

Mubarak stepping down will begin a peaceful transition towards democracy, Elkowessny said. She disagrees with those who say Egypt is left in a chaotic state under the military.

“I think it’s going to be very good,” Elkowessny said. “Egypt is a relatively peaceful country. I’ve been there a lot of times. It’s not going to go badly.”

The demonstration brought up several issues in regards to economic, social and educational reform in Egypt. Issues such as the end of emergency law, end of police brutality and free elections were discussed amongst the crowd.

“There’s a long road ahead,” Ibrahim said. “A lot of work needs to be done. Thirty years of dictatorship isn’t going to change overnight. People need to be patient. We need to see a transparent plan put forward by the military right now until the elections happen.”