By Celeste Kurz
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Egyptian youth shouldn’t give up their hopes for a new kind of government or abandon their peaceful protests, said U.S. Congressman John Larson.
“The beauty of Egypt is the young people that were involved, the young people who thirst for change and freedom and liberty,” he said in an interview this week.
Larson, a Connecticut Democrat and former high school history teacher, knew what h
e would say to young people in the streets of Egypt.
“Stay the course,” Larson said. “Peacefully, but stay the course. The world is watching.”
Larson said he believes the protests in Egypt and in Tunisia before that will bring reforms in other nations as well.
He said he hopes peace will soon come to Egypt and that a transition to a new leader is smooth.
“Any time that there is unrest, you want to make sure that stability comes about peacefully as it possibly can,” said Larson. “That becomes critical for the whole region.”
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “has been consistent,” said Larson, “although apparently consistently tyrannical for the people.”
The congressman said he approves of the approach taken by President Barack Obama.
“I think the president’s gotten it just about right that Mubarak needs to announce that he’s moving on and he needs to do so sooner rather than later,” said Larson. “I think that’s in the best interest of the people.”
Larson said there are good and bad things about the Egyptian revolution springing out of the role that mobile phones and new technology like Facebook have had.
“People are able to communicate,” said Larson. “It has both a very positive impact of unleashing people out in the street, but unless you bring in that human contact with it, I think that becomes a missing link.”
And, Larson said, in the case of the failed Iranian uprising last summer, the authorities there used technology to track who was using the phones and who they were calling and arrest those who were involved.
Larson likes the way the Egyptian army is handling the uprising. Its relationship with the people brings a sense of comfort, said Larson.
He said there’s a big difference between the army and the police and the “thuggish groups” that introduced violence Wednesday.
He said it’s important for protesters to remain peaceful.
“The world can tell the difference between peaceful protests and thuggery,” said Larson.
He said he hopes the army can come to terms with Mubarak and ease him out in a transition.
“We know this, that there will be a new president. It’ll be in September,” Larson said. “My own feeling is it should happen sooner rather than later, but you do have to allow room to maneuver, and hopefully if you can establish a leader in this process to negotiate that transition, it can take place in an orderly fashion.”
The instability in Egypt, the congressman said, also matters when it comes to the availability of foreign oil.
American is dependent on foreign oil, Larson said, and needs to develop other forms of energy.
Wonderful alternatives to foreign oil include the use of fuel cells, geothermal energy, and natural gas, he said.
In addition to pursing alternative energy, Larsen suggested that the nation conserve what it has by retrofitting buildings and making mass transit, especially high speed rail, available in densely populated areas.
As a bonus, Larson said new energy programs would provide jobs and help the economy grow for many years.