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Comments Roundup: Egyptian New Yorkers React

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

WNYC

Tens of thousands of protesters flooded into the heart of Cairo on Tuesday to organize what they hope to be a "Million Man March." Reports later estimated the turnout was more than two million. We checked in with Egyptian New Yorkers who are watching all of these developments from across the world. Omar Cheta, a Ph.D. candidate in the Departments of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies and History at NYU joined Brian Lehrer to talk about the protests, and callers from around the city joined in.

 

 

I came here from Egypt when I was five...For 30 years people have just been sitting on the sidelines saying we can't do anything about this and for the first time, they are finally able to stand up and it's an exhilarating moment. And I'm here in New York and all I want to do is get on a plane and get to Egypt and stand with my people because it's the first time in my entire life that I'm proud to be Egyptian.

- Sharin in Brooklyn

That's how I feel about the country... even my kids was born here and my son who is 15 and has been in Egypt only one time when he was three and he was the one that asked me to go to the rally on Sunday. He said we have to go, we have to go, we have to go. So it makes me so proud to hear this from the second generation here in America. 

- Ahmed Shadid, President of Islamic Center in Jersey City

I'm very hopeful but also worried. There's a lot of anticipation for what's going to happen today with the Million Man March. Because of what happened with the disappearance of the police force a few days ago and the looting that happened, there's a lot of anticipation that police agents and thugs that are not in unfiorm might provoke the army to intervene in ways that would ruin it for everyone.

- Omar Cheta

I agree with Brother Omar with what he said. I've been meeting with different organizations and different people from my community and we really worry about our people in Egypt. Sometimes the confusion about all the government, the old government, the new government, who's going to be ruling, how will they be ruling. Sometimes this is not the great concern, but the great concern is the people standing in the street and what's going to happen to them...  the houses have been broken into, the stores have been robbed, a lot of hunger... How's the country going to survive?

- Ahmed Shadid, President of Islamic Center in Jersey City

People are running out of cash, ATM machines are down, banks are closed, and grocery stores are not receiving any supplies. I think that's probably the Mubarak strategy, is to take the steam out of this popular movement by making people tired and making them realize that they'll grow short of food and money soon.

- Omar Cheta

My father's Egyption and I grew up here but I've lived there a couple times. He seems to be going through an interesting shift in perspective. He, first of all, hates Mubarak and every year that I visit him there's tirades every day against the regime...and he was supportive and kind of excited at the beginning, but when I spoke to him yesterday, he was calling the protesters stupid and saying they don't understand the bigger economic ramifications and it just surprised me. He's becoming so worried about stability that he's finding it hard to support the protesters. 

- Magda in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

My parents here do also think that the protesters are foolish and think that this is a joke and it's going to end badly and everyone should just go back home and accept what Mubarak has given them right now because they are scared. My father is from the school that stability is more important than anything and he's been known to say things like Egyptians can't rule themselves. We don't have that civic culture. And these people are proving him wrong.

- Sharin in Brooklyn

Egypt used to be a very strong country when it comes to government. It's a very powerful government so it's not easy to pull out the authority from them. In order to do this, you have to organize certain things. In order to start a state once again you have to have...new parliament and you have to make the country stabilized.

- Mustafa in Little Italy, Manhattan

I think this is a particularly critical point because this is when it's time for people to articulate their demands in more specific terms. You can start seeing the conflicts. People are now having discussions about whether a new constitution needs to be written or just a few articles need to be amended, whether Mubarak needs to leave right now or whether he can stay but not run in the next election, and so on.

-Omar Cheta

This isn't exisiting in a political vacuum. We have a constitution, we have political parties and the mechanisms are that we do have the tools to transition this.

- Sharin in Brooklyn

I am really afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood to take over in Egypt. I am a Christian and we will have no rights.

- Basem in Manhattan

I want to say that the Mulsim Brotherhood did not spearhead this movement and so far they're not dominant within it. Of course they're part of the political spectrum in Egypt and of course they're not popular among liberals including myself, not only among religious minorities but if a proper representative government mechanism is put in place and a constitution is agreed upon among different opposition groups, their power would be checked even if they're better positioned to rule once this episode is over.

- Omar Cheta

 

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Omar Cheta

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Comments [2]

Dr from NY

Egypt is NOT in the middle east, it's in Africa.

Feb. 01 2011 03:42 PM
Joseph LaMorte from NYC

I am not Egyptian, but I have traveled and done business there for many years. One perspective that I think that is being largely ignored or not reported at all in the media is the Military establishment and the people's dislike of Mubarak's son...the heir apparent up until a week ago. The disconnect between the military and Gamal Mubarak has been ongoing for some time now. The military suddenly didn't have a change of heart towards democratic reform. It is clearly in their interest to have a smooth transition, and one that doesn't include Mubarak's son. Mubarak himself is an old man, 82 years old and in ill-health. The popular protests presented the military with an out...that they were going to have to deal with when the old man dies. The military and its former generals owe many of the businesses there (especially in the export sector)...sadly I think that the uprising in Egypt will not be a changing of the Gods, but rather only a changing of the guards.

Feb. 01 2011 11:47 AM

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