Hundreds of Australians spilled onto Melbourne’s streets in support of anti-Morsi protesters in Egypt. The jubilant crowds gathered at the city’s State Library before marching to the Egyptian Consulate.
Egyptians, young and old, Muslims and Christians, chanted in unison for a better future amid light security presence.
“This is the real Egypt,” declared Magdy Ramzy, one of the organizers of the Melbourne demonstration. “Egyptians have always had a strong bond and a sense of togetherness that goes back thousands of years, today we showed Morsi that we are not divided.”
The sense of unity was expressed in the chants, which included “Muslims and Christians are one hand,” and “The blood of the Shiites and Sunnis is expensive.”
Dozens of Australians stood to take pictures and enquired about the demonstration. For 20-year-old university student, Jessica, the sense of unity and passion in the air was inspiring.
“I sincerely hope that Egyptians get what they are fighting for. Often in Australia we take simple things, like free speech and equality between genders, for granted, all while forgetting that there are people like Egyptians struggling to achieve a real sense of freedom,” she said before taking photographs with a few Egyptian children.
Yet June 30, 2013 does not mark the first time Egyptians have stood up against their government. Just two years ago, Egyptians revolted against Hosni Mubarak in what became known as the January 25 revolution.
Yasser, an Egyptian who has been in Australia for nine years, had dreamt of going back to Egypt shortly following the January 25 revolution. Yet, the two years that followed unfolded in ways he could not imagine.
“There is no justice, no freedom…nothing that we called for has been achieved,” said Yasser disappointingly while his child stood beside him waving a little Egyptian flag outside the State Library.
Despite being thousands of kilometers from Cairo, Egyptians in Melbourne felt that they would be betraying Egyptians in Cairo had they not demonstrated today.
“We’ve reached a bottom line…people in Egypt could die today, I am here to make sure the world knows about their cause and to support them,” explained Yasser.
Outside the Egyptian Consulate, Ahmed Youssef, a 22-year-old Egyptian student, agreed with Yasser. “As an Egyptian you have the duty to stand up for the people in Egypt,” said Ahmed. “Even if you don’t want to live there right now, you might want to in the future, you might have family and friends there…it is our future.”
Yet, Ahmed conceded that the protests in Egypt might turn bloody amid a highly polarized society. “The Muslim Brotherhood’s followers don’t really compromise and will likely stick to their own system and beliefs which would eventually lead to violence,” he explained.
Apart from standing in solidarity with protesters in Egypt, Lilian Shaker, one of the demonstration’s organizers, believed that it was also important to send a message to the Australian community and government.
“We delivered a clear message to not only the Egyptian government, but also to the Australian community,” said Ms. Shaker, admitting that the Australian government has not done enough to address the situation in Egypt. “We think the Australian government should do more and we will be sending a clear and formal message to the government.”
As the protest neared an end, Egyptians outside the consulate expressed optimism in that the President will step down.
“Morsi will definitely leave! There are no other choices!” said Lilian Shaker shortly after delivering a speech. “All Egyptians are against him. We are no longer a minority.”
Despite concerns of violence, Mr. Ramzy believed that eventually Egyptians will succeed in achieving justice, freedom and equality.
“I am of course worried and concerned,” admitted Mr. Ramzy. “But I feel that the people have spoken. When the Egyptian people speak out, you better watch out.