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Occupy Detroit Joined By Arab Community Groups For March In Support Of Egyptian Revolution

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Matt Sledge/HuffPost
Matt Sledge/HuffPost

On the anniversary of 2011's Egyptian revolution, community groups will join members of Occupy Detroit to stand in solidarity with the Egyptian people.

The protest marks the one-year anniversary of the first protests in Egypt's Tahir Square, where thousands called for President Hosni Mubarak's resignation. A year later, Occupy Detroit protesters are demanding the U.S. end aid to Egypt's military leaders.

"It's no coincidence that the government finds enough resources to send to Egypt to suppress popular uprisings, but doesn't have enough money to keep public schools open in Detroit," said Aaron Petcoff, a member of Occupy Detroit who helped organize the rally. "It holds special significance for Detroiters considering the acute degree of economic injustice here in the Detroit area."

At 4:30 Wednesday, protesters will gather at Detroit's Grand Circus Park and march to the McNamara Federal building. A diverse group of speakers, including Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News, Ryan Jackson, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Ali F. Beydoun, president of Wayne State University's Arab Student Union, will address the revolution in Egypt.

"I just want to take an opportunity to highlight ... the importance of the Arab Spring and what those people did in Egypt, to stand up for ideas and freedoms that we enjoy here every day in the United States," Beydoun told HuffPost. "We should be the first on our feet to stand in support of people anywhere in the world who want life, liberty and justice."

The Detroit demonstration coincides with similar Jan. 25 rallies by other Occupy groups across the country and the expected return of thousands of protesters to Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Members of Occupy Detroit originally had the idea for the local solidarity march. Earlier in January, Petcoff sat down with members of Arab community groups including the Arab Civil Rights Leagure, the Arab Student Unions at University of Michigan-Dearborn and Wayne State, and the Arab American News to see how the groups could work together.

"The Arab Spring is obviously very significant for people in communities like Dearborn," which has a large Arab-American population, Petcoff said. "It's very important for Occupy Detroit to stand with people in that community and defend the Arab uprising.

He also drew a connection between events in Egypt, Libya, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries and the protests against Wall Street in the U.S.

"The Arab Spring and Egyptian uprising issued in a whole new era of resistance to economic injustice," Petcoff explained. "Without the Arab Spring there would likely be no Occupy movement."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the publisher of the Arab American News. He is Ali F. Siblani, not Sublani.

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