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Egyptian Protests Draw Attention Locally

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The calls for change in Tahrir Square went unanswered for another day, as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refused to give up the position of power he has held for nearly 3 decades.

“Mubarak has not in his mind accepted the situation,” said Dr. Morad Abou-Sabe, an Egyptian native and President of the Arab-American League of Voters of New Jersey.

Hundreds of thousands of protestors have joined the international community, demanding Mubarak’s resignation and the end of his authoritarian regime. Last week, authorities cut off internet and cell phone service.

Dr. Abou-Sabe said change can only start with Mubarak stepping down immediately.

“He promised to step down in seven months,” said Dr. Abou-Sabe. “If you let him do that, nothing will ever happen again.”

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Advocates for peace said a democratic Egypt would bring political stability to the Middle East, a region that has known years of turmoil.

“The Israel-Egypt peace treaty is a bedrock of stability in the region,” said Reverend Robert Moore, director of the Coalition for Peace Action. “We want to build on that. We want to preserve that.”

But Dr. Norman Smith, who waited thirty hours to catch one of the few flights out of Cairo last weekend, said there could be a dangerous vacuum of power if Mubarak steps down. He warns a religious faction like the Muslim Brotherhood could take control, threatening current peace treaties.

“The Muslim Brotherhood only represents about twenty percent of the population,” said Dr. Smith. “I don’t think that’s where most of Egypt wants to go. It’s a extremist Islamic faction. But there’s no other political leadership to represent the eighty percent who are poor.”

Egyptians called the end of the week the “Friday of Departure,” but Mubarak has not left yet, insisting he will stay through the September elections. International attention has focused on Cairo, where the tension is building—waiting for a decision that will change the future of the country and the region.

Reported by Oren Liebermann, CBS 3

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