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Egyptians in San Diego Celebrate Mubarak’s Departure

Audio

Aired 2/11/11

The revolution in Egypt brings a spirit of celebration to Egyptians all over the world, including those who live in San Diego.

— The fall of president Hosni Mubarak has lifted the spirits of Egyptians all over the world, including those who live in San Diego. You could see it by attending Friday prayers at the San Diego Islamic Center on Balboa Avenue.

Hanif Mohebi (seated) is the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in San Diego, and he is joined by a handful of Egyptian-Americans who expressed their joy at the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They spoke at the Islamic Center of San Diego, February 11, 2011.
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Above: Hanif Mohebi (seated) is the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in San Diego, and he is joined by a handful of Egyptian-Americans who expressed their joy at the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They spoke at the Islamic Center of San Diego, February 11, 2011.

Services brought out many Muslims who have family members in Egypt, and they spoke of the happiness they felt upon hearing the news that Mubarak was really done. Marwa Abdalla said today's news left her feeling overjoyed, and it happened as her mother and sister-in-law, who live in Cairo, were paying a visit.

"It just so happened that they're here when this revolution broke out,” she said. “So I ran to the bedroom they were sleeping in and said, ‘Mom, sister, wake up! You won't believe what happened!’"

Most of the Egyptians said that they, or their parents, moved to the U.S. to escape oppression and corruption in Egypt. Some said hope for the future of the country might cause them to move back to help create a democracy. Khaled El Henawy said the Egyptian revolution should show the United States it must support free Arab societies.

“The U.S. foreign policy for the last 30 years is to control and stabilize the Middle East, rather than fighting for the right causes, which is promoting democracy,” he said.

El Henawy said Egypt's challenge is to turn power over to a new civilian government, chosen in honest elections. Most said they were glad the army had taken control of the government, provided that power would revert to civilian control as soon as possible.

Earlier today, on a special edition of the KPBS radio program "These Days," Dr. Sameh Ali, Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSD, said he is confident the Egyptian military will guide the country toward democratic elections.

"I think the past 20 days or so has indicated that the power is in the hands of the people and the military surely understands this," he said.

Gada Osman, director of the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies at San Diego State University, noted Egypt's history of the military taking over when it was supposed to transition to civilian rule.

"In 1952, there was a military coup that ousted the king and put the military in power and at the time there was the idea that this would only be transitional and military rule has existed since then," Osman told our radio audience.

"However, I do think this is very different. I think just the difference between what happened yesterday and what happened today points to the power of the people and the power that is now understood to belong to the people, so that no matter what the regime tries to do, the popular uprising really does have the ability to shift that."

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