Local activist optimistic about Egypt's future

March 7, 2011 8:37:08 PM PST
A local activist who was among the protesters who toppled the government of Egypt is now back in Chicago.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, shared his firsthand account of what it was like to be a part of history with ABC7.

"It's been such a whirlwind experience. For me it felt like writing history and documenting it at the same time," he said.

Rehab, who returned from Egypt five days ago, says it was a life-changing experience. He was in the country when President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Rehab stayed there to offer his support to the youth movement which was the driving force behind the push for democracy.

"They've shown tremendous awareness of what it means to pursue a democracy. They've shown the nuance and the sophistication of understanding that there's a difference between toppling a regime, and that's one thing, and then erecting a democracy, and that's a whole other thing," he said.

Rehab calls the revolution an event that was 7,000 years in the making. He credits the organizers for giving people the courage to fight for transparency and accountability in government.

"The stereotype that the Arab world, or the Muslim world, is forever stuck between dictatorship on one end and Islamist extremist theocracy a la Iran on the other end has been defeated with the people saying there's a third alternative. It's called democracy and that's what we want," said Rehab.

Rehab also disputes the stereotype that women are second-class citizens in the Arab world. He says they were leaders in the pro-democracy movement.

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