Supporters of Egyptian protesters rally in Columbia - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Supporters of Egyptian protesters rally in Columbia

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The unrest in Egypt is 6,200 miles away from Columbia, but students in the Midlands are making their voices heard by rallying at the State House on Tuesday to show their support.

Kareem Gouda and his classmates were born in Egypt. Watching the protest on television and seeing the updates on the Internet, they knew there was no way for them to leave USC to stand up for this youth driven revolution.

But a world away, they say their voices are being heard. "We were inspired by the young people in Egypt to organize this," said Gouda. "The young people inspired by the opposition. This is heading towards what we want in the end."

Kareem says all of the young men at the rally had family members on the ground in Egypt largest square. Though they can't get into direct contact with their relatives to see if they are safe, they know the change in power is necessary.

"All means of communication are shut down," said Gouda. "No Facebook, no Twitter, no landlines, no cell phones. We can't hear anything from them."

The unrest in Egypt may not be the only revolution to take place in the sometimes volatile region. Kareem says as the world has changed, Arab leaders have remained the same. And the youth are tired of it.

"Most of the Arab countries have dictatorships," said Gouda. "President Mubarak has been in power for 35 years. The leaders are frightened of us. What happened in Tunisia is what's happening in Egypt, and who knows who is next."

The unrest in Cairo is affecting Egyptians who live here in Columbia. We spoke with a young man who says if he were in his home country, he'd be a part of the angry protests.

Not being able to speak your mind freely is one of the major issues the native of Egypt says is causing the protests.

Sherif Abdelgawad, 31, says his country has suffered far too long. His country has only had one president during his lifetime, and he says it's time for Hosni Mubarak to go.

"So many people feel stretched in terms of affording food, clothing," said Abdelgawad. "You know all the essentials. Everyday essentials, for example people work two, three jobs. Oppression is not something good, it always leads to something bad."

At first, watching the protests made him sad. Then the USC grad student says he became angry as his once-civilized country erupted in political turmoil, with thousands of people flooding the streets in Cairo demanding president Mubarak step down.

Abdelgawad led his own protest on the sidewalk in front of the state house, joined by others representing family members back home.

"We are supporting them," said Abeer Mohammed. "We call them every day and we're waiting, we're waiting."

When it's finally over, Abdelgawad hopes his country will be a free nation with a better economy. But he says that will only come with a new leader.

"Let the people decide who is most appropriate for them," said Abdelgawad. "This is what they are seeking for. This is the main point. We want to select who represents us. Who will take care of our affairs, who will run the country. We want to have something new."

The protest in Egypt started one week ago, and there are no signs of it ending anytime soon. There are talks of a million-man march to take place on Friday.

About 1,200 Americans have already been evacuated from Egypt, and the State Department has ordered all non-essential government workers to leave too.

The State Department is also recommending Americans avoid traveling to Egypt, and U.S. tourists still there are being told to leave as soon as they can safely get out.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.

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