sfstate.jpgSan Francisco State University students and teachers are holding a public discussion this afternoon to respond to the momentous uprising in Egypt.

Today’s event comes as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he will step down when his term ends in September. Protesters have called on Mubarak to leave office immediately.

The developments in Egypt have stirred interest and questions from the school community, and today’s meeting will address those, organizer Mira Nabulski said.

The Arab world was shaken last month when protests in Tunisia forced President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to step down. Protests in Egypt and other Arab countries followed.

“It looks like this is going to be the beginning of a bigger change in the Arab world,” Nabulsi said. “The barrier of fear that existed before is being challenged.”

Today’s speakers include professors who specialize in the politics and culture of the Arab world and SFSU students from Egypt. They will be discussing the history of the region, the recent protests, the response in Bay Area communities, and U.S. foreign policy.

Speakers will also discuss the impact of the Internet and social media in the recent uprisings.

“I think (social media) helps a lot but it was people coming out into the streets that toppled the regime in Tunisia. We need to give credit to those people,” Nabulsi said.

“They’ve moved from behind the screens to the streets. That’s why the use of social media has been successful,” she said.

Today’s discussion will be held at the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU in Room EP 116 at 4 p.m.

One of the speakers, SFSU professor Mohammud Salama, will also participate in a rally in support of the Egyptian people at San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza on Saturday.

The Answer Coalition held a rally last Saturday at Market and Montgomery streets and supporters came out in abundance.

“It exceeded our expectations,” organizer Omar Ali said. “About 1,000 people came out and they came out with a lot of compassion and solidarity with the people.”

Saturday’s march will proceed along Market Street and organizers hope it will help raise awareness.

“This is a humanitarian issue. Thirty years of one ruler is enough,” Ali said.

Today’s meeting is organized by the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative, or AMED, through SFSU’s College of Ethnic Studies.

Erika Heidecker, Bay City News

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