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Egyptians in Sweden: Tunisia was the trigger
Protests in Egypt on Friday

Egyptians in Sweden: Tunisia was the trigger

Published: 28 Jan 2011 15:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Jan 2011 15:45 GMT+01:00

Egyptians in Sweden plan to demonstrate in solidarity with protesters in their home country as Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt slammed Egyptian authorities for shutting down internet access.

Egyptians in Sweden are planning to gather in Sergels Torg in central Stockholm on Friday evening in support of the protesters taking to the streets back home.

“We put the word out via Facebook to Egyptians in Sweden. We’ve been communicating actively since the protests started in Egypt,” Kholoud Saad, and Egyptian living in Gävle in eastern Sweden, told The Local.

Saad has been living and working in Sweden since July of 2010, but has been following events in her home country carefully. She described the current protests as a “revolution”.

“It’s Muslims, Christians, moderates, liberals…Egyptians of all kinds who are fighting for their freedoms,” she said.

“We’re not going to stop until we established democratic reforms and get a government that represents the people and not their own agenda.”

The Friday night gathering in Stockholm was initiated by Hassam Selim, an Egyptian living in the Swedish capital.

"There is a big revolution sweeping across the Arab world," he told The Local.

"We want to support them. I'm an Egyptian and it's my country and we're all looking for our freedom...it will be great to see 80 million Egyptians regain their humanity."

In a statement issued on Friday, Bildt said Egypt's decision to shut down the internet as "almost unprecedented".

“I have not been able to come up with any previous example of this happening other than in Burma in 2007,” he said.

“Obviously, the future of Egypt cannot be shaped by closing the internet - instead it must be shaped by opening up the political system.”

Bildt’s comments come amid continued demonstrations in the Egyptian capital of Cairo and Alexandria. The protests, which began on Monday, are considered to be the largest anti-government protests since 1977.

The pro-democracy demonstrators are pushing for regime change in the North African country, which has been ruled by President Hosni Mubarak since 1981.

While Saad explained that pro-democracy forces in Egypt have been organising for more than a year, the recent political upheaval in Tunisia played a role in bringing Egyptians to the streets.

“Tunisia was the trigger,” she said.

“We saw what they were doing and said why not try to do it like they did in Tunisia.”

Egyptians are set to head to the polls in September for presidential elections which Bildt said were of “vital importance”, but it remains unclear what effect current events may have on the country’s political future.

Saad said she was looking forward to demonstrating with other Egyptians in Sweden, but admitted it was hard to be away from her home country.

“I’m boiling with anger and want to get on the first plane back so I can be there,” she said, adding that the current regime was “putting Egypt back in the dark ages” by shutting down communications.

Bildt also slammed the government’s decision to close down the internet as “downright dangerous”.

“In the long run, free access to information is better for confidence and stability than restrictions and prohibitions,” said Bildt.

“Measures such as this, that aim at short-term stability, may very well lead to more long-term suppression.”

According to the Swedish foreign ministry, around 250,000 Swedes visit Egypt annually, primarily as tourists.

While the ministry has stopped short of issuing a travel warning for Egypt, it is advising Swedes to follow developments closely and avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place.

Selim estimated that Friday's demonstration in Stockholm would likely draw about 200 people, but that other demonstrations are being planned for next week.

"Things in Egypt are happening so fast, it's hard to keep up," he said.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:09 January 28, 2011 by Localer
gosh, why involved peaceful Stockholm !!!!!! leave it alone, and if you want to demo go back and fight for your freedom !
17:49 January 28, 2011 by Maler1971
This accomplishes absolutely nothing.
19:04 January 28, 2011 by wxman
Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Egypt. This is Iran 1979 redux.
19:50 January 28, 2011 by Dave N
Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Sweden. This is Europe 2091.
20:21 January 28, 2011 by Ravioli
In one year, Egypt will be an Islamic state. Guaranteed. then we'll see about all of these 'freedoms' that the protesters are talking about.
20:39 January 28, 2011 by truthworthy
The west is contracting itself now. You talk about democracy but you dont want democracy in Egypt because that dictator is a West ally. Whether Egypt will be Islamic nation or not that will depend the choice of the people but for now the dictator Must Go.
21:39 January 28, 2011 by Israeli Jew
Now it is time for Sweden and Europe in general to send universal army " to protect the only democratic country in the region "Israel" from those radicals. However, I know very well that the phoney people (Swedes) hate israelis, so obviously they wont. They just want to support th palestinians who attack civilian israelis.
22:21 January 28, 2011 by Muff
''Whaaaa whaaa, why don't Muslims do something about their own countries instead of bugging us?!''

Rioting starts against dictatorial government.

''Whaaaa whaaaa, I liked the status quo.''

Jeeez, make up your minds.......
22:38 January 28, 2011 by superturbo
Aha, the birth of yet another Islamist republic. Just what the world needs...
23:03 January 28, 2011 by bow290
Sweden is ur home now guys... right? why take a dump in ur own front yard? go back 2 Egypt and do ur protesting! all ur going to do is inconvenience the locals :)
23:09 January 28, 2011 by Uncle
Egypt has 2 ways to go. Whether the peaceful religion of Islam with their people-loving Muslim Brothers, who killed countless numbers of the beloved people and are planning to install a fully democratic (except women..and gays...and Christians...and converts...and Jews...and just secular people...) state.

Or, Mubarak will concede to some demands, fire some ministers and bribe the key oppositioners and stay.

Installing an actual stable democracy there is never possible, like it is not possible in Lebanon, where Hezbollah has a bigger army than the government and physically controls third of the country, druze have their own army and palestinians control the north.

But actually, these small revolutions are quite good. It shakes up the muslim dictators a bit. Makes them think of a strategy to please the people also.
23:37 January 28, 2011 by technoviking
A Western friendly dictator is better than Islamist maniacs any day... Hopefully this doesn't end badly.
01:48 January 29, 2011 by svenne101
muslim population will double in the coming 30 years from now and that is root cause of the problem. unemployment , corrpution, violence, shortage of basic ameneties, law less ness , fighting for so called FREEDOM are the consequences.

you muslims please stop breeding and try to learn how to rule yourself and become enlightened and strong individuals.

qulity is important than quantity. keep in mind that only strong ones only survive and weak ones will die as time goes. that is the natural.
02:51 January 29, 2011 by alex.49
Its sick how most of the comments are from people supposed to be from an "open minded-free society" !

let the people wherever they are choose whatever they choose, I am sure they wont mind whoever governs Sweden, if they were in your shoes.

Fact: Egypt has a population of over 80 million and Mubark is ruling for the last 30 years under emergency laws (supported by US and EU) which Im sure non of you had ever experienced what its like.

People dont have to live miserably elsewhere so that you just want to feel "safe" in Europe!
03:44 January 29, 2011 by svenne101
fact:egypt had only 20 million in 1950 and will become 110 million in 2050.

SWEDEN had 7 million in 1950 and also 7 million 2050.

now muslims if you have any brain just think the quality of life between swedish and egypt.

MUSLIMS DONT BREED on social money.
06:23 January 29, 2011 by UScitizen
@svenne101

Well, you're a little off in your count there but how many of those 7 million Swedes are Muslim now, compaired to 1950? I'm all for democracy in any country but here's what will happen if Egypt does become an Islamic run nation: there will be suicide bombers in the streets killing off all the minorities. Democracy is great compaired to a dictorship if it can be peaceful democracy.
06:36 January 29, 2011 by svenne101
@UScitizen

good question. in 2050 out of 7 million sweden may be 3 million are muslims.
07:35 January 29, 2011 by rybo1
I've scanned the comments and just about all of them are rubbish from the brain dead.
07:45 January 29, 2011 by svenne101
@ rybo1

i presented the statistics and they are 100% facts. can you please explain me how the my brain is dead?
08:18 January 29, 2011 by rybo1
Svenne 101

Projections of what may or not be in 2050 are not facts.
08:33 January 29, 2011 by Israeli Jew
@Uncle #12

"But actually, these small revolutions are quite good." & "Makes them think of a strategy to please the people also."

Really? and you are considering that is a good thing?

The ultimate dream and wish of all Muslims is to kill all jews and destroy Israel. I guess you consider this as a "quite good" thing,,, shame on you...
11:21 January 29, 2011 by johnny1939
If Egypt wants to become a moslem republic it is their choice.
12:35 January 29, 2011 by samwise
the past is depressing, the future is not necessarily so bright, but the ones who risk their lives for a freer society deserve some respect and encouragement.

I'm kind of pessimistic for the future of Egypt too.
13:54 January 29, 2011 by svenne101
@ rybo1

at you agree to the fact that egypt population raised from 20 million in 1950 to 80 million in 2010.

so they have fight for food or die. and they deserve it.
14:28 January 31, 2011 by AHA
The problems in Egypt and the Arab world started 1952 with Abdul Nasser. I am not saying that the monarchy was a blessing for Egyptians. You just cannot substitute a corrupt king with a dictator.
15:10 January 31, 2011 by Rick Methven
Svenne101 would not recognise a fact if it bit him on his nose which is as far as his pea brain can see

He is just one of the brain dead trolls that hang around this forum
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