Triangle Egyptians celebrate, urge U.S. to support revolution
Posted February 13, 2011 3:17 p.m. EST
Updated February 13, 2011 7:45 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Thousands of miles from their homeland, Egyptian-Americans have anxiously and hopefully watched as protesters forced an end to the 30-year reign of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
"I actually have my mother there. I have relatives and friends still and am in contact with them on a daily basis," said Moe El-Gamal, a Raleigh resident who emigrated from Egypt in his 20s.
El-Gamal, also chairman of the Muslim American Public Affairs Council, said he fully expects freedom, democracy and prosperity to emerge from the revolution.
"I'd really like to assure the American people that they don't have to be afraid of anything, including the Muslim brotherhood," he said.
El-Gamal said he knew the revolution would come, just not when.
"People are thrilled and excited that something like that happened by the people, in a peaceful way. That's the most important thing – a peaceful way," he said.
"I think the people deserve to celebrate, and we did celebrate over the past two days here in Raleigh," he added.
Tarek Hatem, Raleigh resident and Egyptian native, had a role in fomenting the revolution. Working through various online channels, he has been a part of encouraging specific reforms in the country.
Hatem gave more credit to the people on the ground for the uprising's success.
"All of these guys I know, like my friends list on Facebook, came out and did what we saw on TV," he said.
Hatem said he only wishes he could have been with the protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
"I really miss Tahrir Square, like I'd love to be there," he said.
El-Gamal said the coming days and weeks will be challenging for the Egyptian people as they seek to transition from an interim military government, form a new constitution and hold elections to become a full-fledged democracy.
What they need, he said, is support from the United States and other democracies.
As for himself, El-Gamal said it's been a year since he's visited the country and he can't wait to step foot on Egyptian soil again.
"Finally free soil," he said.