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San Diegans React To Egyptian President’s Decision To Stay

Above: People enter Tahrir Square as news of the possible resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak seeped out February 10, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt.

Audio

Aired 2/11/11

San Diegans closely watch events in Cairo as President Hosni Mubarak defies calls for his resignation.

— Egyptians who flooded into Cairo’s Tahrir Square today in anticipation President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation were deeply disappointed. The president, who said Egypt was the land of his birth and will be the land of his death, declared he will stay on through elections in September.

The announcement dashed earlier euphoria felt from Cario to San Diego.

“I cannot express my joy and happiness for what the people of Egypt are accomplishing at this time,” Imam Taha Hassane, of the Islamic Center of San Diego. He was speaking on KPBS’ “These Days” program this morning.

“At the Islamic Center, we have been praying for the safety of people in Egypt and elsewhere.”

But when it became clear soon after Mubarak began speaking that he was not stepping down, reactions turned dark, even across the globe in San Diego.

Egyptian Rehad Saada, who has been in daily contact with friends marching in Tahrir Square, believes Mubarak’s refusal to step down will incite violence.

“This is unbelievable. He created a bomb in Tahrir. It is going to explode," said Saada. "These are young people who want their freedom. This revolution is not going to stop.”

Michael Lurie co-chair and co-founder of the San Diego Israel Coalition, says Israel is watching the events in Egypt with concern.

“From Israel’s perspective, Egypt is currently an enormous unknown," he said. "Their hope is that it will evolve toward a peaceful democracy with which they can have true relations because even though there’s been a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel since 1977, there hasn’t been a true peace in the sense of genuine economic relations, cultural relations, tourism on both sides, and so on.”

On the 17th day of street protests calling for Mubarak’s exit, events there seemed to suddenly accelerate. With the world continuing to watch, everyone anticipated an announcement by Mubarak that his controversial 30-year reign is at an end. But Mubarak, who spoke at midday San Diego time, made it clear that he has no intention of ceding to the protesters' demands.

Earlier comments by Egypt's Information Minister Anas el-Fiqqi raised the possibility that Mubarak could announce a half-measure, such as calling for Constitutional reforms while remaining in power.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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