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At Chicago rally, a call for democracy in Egypt, support for Morsi

About 500 people many Egyptian American participate pro-democracy pro-Morsi rally outside Egypt's consulate Michigan Avenue Sunday evening Chicago.  |

About 500 people, many Egyptian American, participate in a pro-democracy, pro-Morsi rally outside Egypt's consulate on Michigan Avenue on Sunday evening in Chicago. | Nausheen Husain~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 9, 2013 12:45PM

Thousands of miles away from the turmoil in Cairo, a group of about 500 people gathered Sunday on North Michigan Avenue to rally for democracy in Egypt.

People in the group waved Egyptian and American flags and chanted, “Bilaadi, bilaadi, laki hubbi wa fu’aadi” — “My country, my country, you have my love and my heart” — the first line of Egypt’s national anthem. Men, women and children came together in front of Egypt’s consulate, 500 N. Michigan, and held up signs that read “Support legitimacy, democracy & human rights” and “Morsi is my legitimate president.”

Former president Mohammed Morsi was pushed out of office Wednesday, after only one year in the job, by Egypt’s military. Egyptians started protesting against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Tahrir Square at the end of June, more than two years after the widespread demonstrations that led to the end of the Hosni Mubarak regime.

Rally organizer Ahmed Taha, of from Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights, said the purpose of the rally was to draw attention to the fact that Morsi was democratically elected and should remain in office until he is voted out.

“If [the protesters] claim that they have millions and millions of people who are against Morsi, they can get themselves ready and organize themselves and organize the vote, so after three years, they can get him out,” he said. “These are the ABC’s of democracy, why don’t they use it?”

Rally attendees, most Egyptian Americans, said they weren’t necessarily in support of Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood, but rather the democratic process.

“Any president who came after the revolution would be in the same situation as Morsi,” said Salwa Ahmed, an Egyptian who has lived in Chicago for more than 20 years. “He can’t fix everything in one year. He should have at least four years to try, like in other democratic countries.”

Amro Tharwa, an Egyptian-American pharmacist from Alexandria, Egypt, said some of his family and friends in Egypt have stopped speaking to him because of his views on the recent protests.

He said they think that he’s not supporting democracy and is supporting Morsi. “They have forgotten that I used to make fun of him,” said Tharwa, 33. “I’m not a radical, I’m not part of the Brotherhood. I’m wearing a Captain America T-shirt.”

Contributing: AP

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