Expatriates pay tribute to determination of their people


EGYPTIANS IN IRELAND:EGYPTIANS LIVING in Ireland welcomed President Hosni Mubarak’s decision to step down yesterday after weeks of protests.

“I jumped in the air and prayed thanks to Allah when I heard the news,” said Eid Zahir, an Arabic-language teacher living in Dublin.

“Egyptians have achieved something great – they have got their freedom. It was a very emotional moment.”

Ms Zahir said the overthrow of the president through popular protest was a potent symbol for the entire region.

“This is the most important revolution because Egypt is the centre of the Middle East. The whole Middle East is going to change after this because now everyone will want their freedom just as we have achieved ours.”

Dr Ragab El-Sayed, a surgeon at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, agreed. “This sends a very powerful signal to other people to wake up,” he said.

“There had been so many demonstrations in Egypt before but Mubarak had crushed them all. This time it was unstoppable because of the scale of it, and the determination of the people.

“It is an unbelievable feeling to think that finally this man and his dictatorship, his criminal regime, are finally gone. We have been waiting for this moment for years.”

Ali Selim, an Egyptian theologian at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh, Dublin, said he was proud the protests that dislodged Mr Mubarak had been peaceful and had included a broad spectrum of people.

“This was a revolution that was led and driven by young people and everybody else joined in. There was no religious or political ideology to it, it was just the hunger for freedom,” he said.

“I felt really proud to be Egyptian when I saw the determination of the people to push for freedom in such a civilised way.”

Mr Selim acknowledged that once the euphoria over Mr Mubarak’s departure evaporated, the difficult task of mapping Egypt’s future would begin. “There are a lot of worries about what happens next, but we hope that all foreign hands will stay away and let Egyptians decide that future for themselves,” he said. “Right now our country is enjoying the end of repression and looks forward to a new birth and a new way of life.”