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Egyptians living in Bay Area celebrate

Saturday, February 12, 2011
SF protest turns into victory rally for Egypt Egyptians living in Bay Area celebrate Prof. Khaled Fahmy describes Cairo celebration

Egyptians living in the Bay Area are celebrating this historic day in their homeland. Even from afar, the emotion of the moment is clear.

ABC7 visited a mosque on Friday where the Sheikh told his congregation fears that Egypt could become a religious state are unfounded. He says the people what the crowds in the streets have been saying, that they want a civil state, freedom, and democracy.

It's a victory dance at San Francisco's Crave City where the owners include a taste of their homeland -- Egyptian pizza on the menu.

"I am excited very happy. Like all those people, millions came out to change everything in just one week, that's exciting!" said Nabil Elmorsy from Crave City.

Elmorsy, 24, has been in the U.S. for four years and looks forward to someday going home to a changed Egypt.

"Now the economic conditions will be a little bit bad, then we'll have to work on it. It is going to take some time to recover, but I think it's going to be for the best after that," said Elmorsy.

San Francisco's Al Sabeel mosque was packed for noon prayers Friday, where the sermon focused on events in Egypt, how they show the power of hope, and the power of youth.

"Our kids they are a peaceful generation, open mind, this time not for closed mind. If one close mind, go home, go stay in the home," said Sheikh Safwat Morsy from the Al Sabeel mosque.

Hassan El Kamah is a graduate student at USF. He left Cairo only a month ago. He says when he returns home this summer, he'll vote for the first time, believing this time it will count.

"I think like any other Egyptian, I cried. I couldn't stand what [was] happening and I called my family and everyone is happy, everyone is dancing," said El Kamah.

One expert ABC7 talked to said despite the jubilation in Egypt and around the world, that this struggle for freedom may be far from over. President Barack Obama echoed that saying, "This is not the end of Egypt's transition, it's a beginning and while Egypt will never be the same, there will be difficult days ahead.

Victory rally held in San Francisco

Friday evening, a planned protest in San Francisco turned into a victory rally at United Nations Plaza.

Egyptian-Americans sang Egypt's national anthem like never before. Now that Mubarak has stepped down, the song carries a whole new meaning for them.

"It's a big day, big change. Everyone has waiting to get freedom and to have a better life and finally we got what we wanted," said Burlingame resident Shadia Solimah.

Organizers of the celebration in the city could hardly believe the turn of events. After Mubarak's refusal to step down Thursday night, many had become discouraged. They were also bracing for the worst.

"We expected to see bloodshed. We expected that. But thank God everything went smoothly and the people were very smart, they didn't get into any violence," said San Francisco resident Mohab Mohamed.

Burlingame resident Rofida Morsy emigrated to the U.S. from Egypt 15 years ago. She says she wishes she was part of the celebration in Tahrir Square, but she says being in the company with other Egyptian-Americans and supporters was the next best thing.

"I'm pretending this is an extension of it and I'm just trying to make the best out of it. Given this isn't Egypt but I don't care, I'm still happy anyway. I want to celebrate anyway," said Morsy.

And despite all the uncertainty as to what lies ahead for Egypt, today, it's been all about optimism.

"Everybody's going to be on the same page. Everybody wants the same thing: fair life, food on your table, roof over your head. It's just an awesome, awesome, awesome experience," said San Francisco resident Mohsen Shabaan.

Many at the rally expressed optimism that democracy will spread to other Middle East countries. But first things first -- and those who have dual citizenships are hoping they'll be able to vote in future Egyptian elections.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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