Egyptians in Garner look to change with hope
Posted February 10, 2011 9:19 p.m. EST
Updated February 11, 2011 8:23 a.m. EST
Garner, N.C. — As Magdy and Samia Saad watched history unfold on their television, they shared the fears and hopes of those who remain in their homeland of Egypt.
The Garner couple moved to the Triangle more than 30 years ago, but still have family in Egypt.
"We were very afraid," said Samia Saad. "All of our family members were guarding their houses. They were, like, taking turns overnight."
The capital city of Cairo has seen more than two weeks of demonstrations and strikes as more and more Egyptians call for change and the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. On Thursday, he said he is handing his powers over to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but stopped short of acquiescing to the demands that he leave office.
Mubarak said he would stay in the country and that he is "adamant to continue to shoulder my responsibility to protect the constitution and safeguard the interests of the people ... until power is handed over to those elected in September by the people in free and fair elections in which all the guarantees of transparencies will be secured."
As he spoke, people were booing and chanting "Get out!" and "We're not happy!" while waving their shoes in the air. After he finished, they resumed their chants of "Leave! Leave! Leave!" The crowd in the square had swelled to several hundred thousand in anticipation of the nighttime address.
The Saads see it as a step in the right direction. The protests are necessary to bring about a change in government that, they hope, will lead to restored order and greater opportunity.
"I hope the Egyptian people will finally live the decent life they deserve," said Sami Saad.
Mubarak opponents are not so patient and positive. They said they would stage bigger protests so long as he remains in office, and some even called for the military to oust him.
"The speech is provocative," said Muhammed Abdul Rahman, a lawyer. "This is going to bring people together more, and people will come out in greater numbers."
Hazim Khalifa, a chemist, said: "He's tried to divide people before. Now the people understand him and they've learned his ways."
Khaled Abdel Hamid, a protest organizer, said protesters planned to escalate their actions and march on the nearby Ministry of Information and state television headquarters Friday.
"This is a poor speech from a poor leader," he said. "If he is stubborn, we are stubborn. We are ready to die here."