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EGYPT: Expats celebrate fall of Mubarak

February 11, 2011 |  1:06 pm

London Egyptian expatriates joined their countrymen celebrating the fall of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday.

In London's upscale Mayfair neighborhood, about 200 people celebrated Mubarak's departure outside the Egyptian Embassy, where they beat drums, danced the conga, hugged and chanted ”Bye bye, Mubarak” before marching through the streets, Reuters reported.

"This is the beginning of a new chapter for Egypt, for human rights, for democracy, and dignity in Egypt and the Middle East," 30-year-old student Basim al-Bahalwan told Reuters.

Egyptian barber Mohammed Zayed, 28, told Reuters that Egyptians were the happiest people in the world. "Our dignity has returned now this dog has gone."

In New York, dozens of people blocked a Queens street, waving Egyptian flags and banners reading "Congratulations to Egyptian youth, your dreams come true" and chanting, "Praise be Allah" and "We live for Egypt to be proud," Reuters reported.

"It's finally free," said Hoda Elimam, 32, as she joined in the New York celebrations with her three children, wearing a sparkly headscarf. "We freed ourselves without blood. I don't fear that Islamists will take power because the faces that make this revolution, I know them, it's just young people," she said.

But not all Egyptians abroad expressed unqualified joy about the end of Mubarak's regime.

Sayed Galal, 32, an Egyptian student in London, told Reuters: "We're happy but also scared. We're hoping that finally we'll get someone who serves the people before himself. This is the most dangerous time for Egypt."

Ahmed Ali, 30, an Egyptian waiter in London, said Egyptians were ready for a new chapter. "Whatever comes next, even if it's hard, it's better than more Mubarak," he told Reuters.

Some Egyptian Americans were critical of how President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton responded to the unrest in Egypt.

"America is a democracy. It should have stayed by the people since Day One. For me it tainted the reputation of America," Mariam Allam, 24, a New York marketing student, told Reuters.

Hamdi Hamza, 52, owner of On the Nile cafe in Astoria, N.Y., said that while Friday was about celebrations, some Egyptians feel forgotten by America.

"Why did America stand by Israel and forget the Arabic people?" Hamza told Reuters at his cafe Friday, where the television was tuned to the Al Arabiya channel's coverage of celebrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square, according to Reuters.

In London, Egyptian financial worker Youssef El-Baz, 32, told Reuters that Mubarak's ouster was just the first step in a tough road ahead. “We still want the deeper cleansing of the regime.”

Also in London, while Egyptians celebrated, one Iraqi restaurant worker offered some words of caution.

"Saddam went, and what did we get? Worse," Imad Abu Othman, 40, told Reuters, referring to the years of chaos and bloodshed that followed the 2003 removal of Saddam Hussein after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.


Hosni Mubarak steps down

Muslim Brotherhood says main goal achieved

Middle East leaders react to Mubarak's exit

Switzerland freezes possible Mubarak assets

— Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Anti-Egyptian government protesters on London's Edgware Road react to news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday. Credit: Sang Tan/Associated Press