Egyptians rally in Tokyo to support protesters

by Kazuaki Nagata

Hundreds of people, mostly Egyptians living in Japan, rallied Saturday in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, demanding that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak immediately step down.

According to one participant, Egyptian residents from various parts of Japan corresponded with each other to arrange Saturday’s rally in Tokyo to lend support to their fellow citizens in Cairo who are trying to oust Mubarak.

“I think we can deliver our message to our people in Tahrir Square,” said Abdallah Ellabban, a 31-year-old Egyptian who studies ophthalmology in Kyoto.

Ellabban said freedom has been suppressed under Mubarak, and his rule is only doing harm to Egypt’s economic growth and democracy.

“We can be better. We need our freedom. We need democracy,” Ellabban said.

Mohamed Naby, a 40-year-old Egyptian living in Nagoya, said the biggest problem is that there is no freedom of speech or fair elections in Egypt. He said Mubarak “must leave.”

“Thirty years of control is very long and our people are suffering,” Naby said, adding Mubarak doesn’t understand the desires of young people.

The rally drew people across generations, including children, and from different nationalities, including Japanese. They marched through bustling Shibuya along Meiji Dori. During the march the participants chanted “Free Egypt” in Japanese, English and Arabic.