Your Opinion: Sweeney deserves thanks

Dear Editor:

I crossed my fingers and prayed for his safe return. I was riveted by his story in the News Tribune.

Having been arrested for a short time by Nigerian police during the Biafran War, I remembered how lonesome you can feel in a situation like the one he was in.

Derrik Sweeney has no cause to apologize for “a very foolish decision.” I think Derrik acted courageously. He is a student of Arabic and planning a career in public service; he needed to get out of the classroom and into the streets of Cairo. He did and by doing so he learned more than he bargained for. He learned how it felt to be tortured and unjustly imprisoned. He learned how it felt to be cursed because he is an American.

He is not to be blamed. One of the reasons for this hatred is our country is supplying the oppressive Egyptian government with $2 billion in aid every year. Ironically, the tear gas which blinded Derrik was made in the U.S. The rioters never hesitate to show our reporters the spent canisters that have “Made in the USA” stenciled on the side.

My only disagreement with Derrik’s story is his comment about the “Occupy” protests. I suspect he got his mistaken opinion while interning on Capitol Hill. People in power fear democratic movements and tend to belittle and label them as mob. He should spend as much time with the “Occupy” people as he has spent with the people in Tahrir Square.

He may find a bored malcontent who cannot afford an iPad. He will find homeless people looking for a place to sleep and a meal to eat. He will be surprised to find many middle aged professionals and working people, many elderly, many Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. I believe if our founding fathers were alive today, they would be in the “Occupy” protests.

Before he joins the 99 percent he should be warned. The police beat, pepper spray, tear gas and imprison.

They have sent Iraq veterans to hospitals and blinded an 82-year-old woman just to mention a few of the reasons why the UN has formally protested the way our police have abused our citizens’ rights to assemble and peacefully protest.

Thank you, Derrik, for the story and for bringing news from Cairo to the front page on the Tribune.

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