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U.S. is both angel, devil for Egyptian protesters

Jan 31, 2011 9:14:00 PM - thestate.com
One of the insults flung at President Hosni Mubarak by Egyptian protesters seeking his ouster was: “Mubarak, you coward! You American collaborator!”

Hostility toward the United States is widespread among the crowds in Cairo’s streets, who feel that Washington’s alliance with Egypt — along with billions of dollars in military aid through the years — has helped Mubarak’s authoritarian regime keep its grip on power for nearly three decades.

But there’s also a yearning for U.S. support. Among the tens of thousands of Egyptians who have gathered in Cairo’s main square in the past week, there’s a general belief that the administration of President Barack Obama could be a key factor in helping to push Mubarak out. So behind the angry chants, there are hopes for solidarity.

“America has to support us, not the oppressors of the people,” said protester Abdel-Salam Hassan, a 51-year-old unemployed man.

“The Americans believe in democracy. Now they have to show us,” said Hassan, who stood in Cairo’s downtown Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, a focal point of protests of economic hardship, government corruption, police brutality and political restrictions.

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