11/23/2011 09:57 am ET Updated Nov 23, 2011

Mother Of Derrik Sweeney, American Student Arrested In Cairo, Speaks Out

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The mother of an American university student arrested during massive protests in Cairo says he's an idealist who got caught up in the pro-democracy movement sweeping the country.

Nineteen-year-old Derrik Sweeney of Missouri was one of three students arrested Monday night.

An Egyptian official says the students were throwing firebombs at security forces fighting with protesters in Tahrir Square. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no authorization to speak to the media.

Joy Sweeney describes her son as a principled person who stands up for his beliefs. But she also says he's the peacemaker in the family and she couldn't see him acting violently.

The other two students are 21-year-old Luke Gates of Indiana; and 19 year-old Gregory Porter of Pennsylvania.

In the video above, Derrik Sweeney's mother tells CBS News, "I'm not mad at him, I just want him safe."

The Georgetown University student, reportedly studying Arabic in Cairo, reportedly was arrested on a university building's roof.

His mother explains how she imagines Derrik was swept up in the clashes sweeping Tahrir Square.

"He got caught up in the whole college-change-the-world mentality, and he believes in democracy strongly," she said.

Sweeney has been detained by Egyptian authorities since his arrest on Monday.



See photos from today's clashes in Cairo:

Tahrir Square