Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) urged Egyptian protesters to follow the examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. in demonstrating against the Cairo regime.
Noting that Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for nearly 30 years, became president in the turmoil after the assassination of Anwar Sadat, Kerry said he "faces a different kind of challenge."
"I call on the Egyptian government and security forces to exercise restraint in dealing with protesters and to respect the human rights of its citizens to seek greater participation in their own government. The Egyptian government also should immediately restore communications and access to social networking sites," he said.
"I hope the people of Egypt will continue to remember the lessons and legacy of peaceful protesters from Gandhi to Dr. King and to exercise their right to be heard in that tradition, which will rally peaceful people everywhere in solidarity," Kerry added.
Still, he stressed, it's "not with rubber bullets and water cannons that order will be restored" in the four-day-old street protests in which demonstrators have been clashing with and even chasing down riot police.
"President Mubarak has the opportunity to quell the unrest by guaranteeing that a free and open democratic process will be in place when the time comes to choose the country’s next leader later this year," Kerry said.