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Egyptian Americans in O.C.'s Little Arabia celebrate

February 11, 2011 |  5:21 pm

Worshipers marked the Friday prayer service at an Anaheim mosque with joyous disbelief over the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Imam Mohammed Faqih told hundreds of devotees at the Islamic Institute of Orange County that perseverance and nonviolence triumphed over tyranny.

"Despite three decades of brutality, 18 days is all it took to bring down one of the worst dictatorships of the century," he said in his sermon. "Never in my lifetime have I seen anything like this."

Egyptian Americans at the service said they were elated and relieved by the change of power in their homeland.

"We felt that a monster has left the scene," said Farouk Abdelwahed, a business management professor at Cal State Fullerton who emigrated from Egypt in the 1960s.

Magdy Salama, a 28-year-old electrical engineer, had just one word to describe the uprising: incredible.

"There’s really no other word to describe it," he said.

Yasmin Mogahed, a 30-year-old freelance writer from Orange who left Egypt with her family when she was less than a year old, said the outcome of the street protests in Egypt could teach everyone something about sticking to their principles.

"The lesson is that when you stand up for justice, act righteously and don't use violence, God will give you victory," she said.

Elsewhere in Little Arabia, as the nexus of the Middle Eastern community in Anaheim is known, revelers waved Egyptian flags, held up anti-Mubarak signs and gathered at restaurants and hookah bars to share congratulations.

At Cleopatra Hair Design, stylists who cut the hair of a diverse Middle Eastern clientele expressed hopes that the revolution in Egypt could bring democratic reforms to other Arab nations -- Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine among them.

Some Egyptian Americans planned celebrations into the night.

Adel Elsayed, 60, an engineer from Yorba Linda who emigrated from Egypt in 1975, was going to a potluck with his friends and family to celebrate and rehash the day’s extraordinary turn of events.

Elsayed, who credits Egyptian youth for having the determination to topple the regime, said he will watch with interest to see if they have the same patience when it comes to establishing a lasting democracy.

"I'm cautiously joyful," he said.

-- Tony Barboza in Anaheim

Photo:  Mohammad Nagi, 35, of Anaheim hangs out of a car and waves the Egyptian flag on Brookhurst Street in the Little Arabia section of Anaheim. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times