Chicagoans react to Egyptian president's speech

February 10, 2011 7:42:14 PM PST
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak addressed protesters Thursday, saying he is transferring some of his power to his vice president.

Mubarak's concessions, however, did not satisfy the protesters, who are calling for him to step down immediately.

Though President Mubarak claims he will satisfy some of the protesters demands; among the concessions, he has vowed to punish those behind the violence that has taken place over the last two weeks.

The president has requested six amendments to Egypt's Constitution and he will lift emergency laws when the country is secure again.

A Chicagoan who's the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ahmed Rehab was in Tahrir Square Thursday as Mubarak spoke.

"The mood was one of disbelief, anger, resentment, huge disappointment," Rehab said. "As soon as the people realized he would not resign, the eruptions of 'No, no,' and 'Leave, leave' and 'Down, down with Mubarak' started."

In Chicago, Egyptian-Americans were prepared to proclaim a new day, until Hosni Mubarek spoke and made clear it is not his intent to step down.

Their expressions reveal their dismay, but Dr. Ibrahim Sadek, an Egyptian-American physician from DuPage County says there is a silver lining to the Mubarak speech.

"It's going to revitalize the masses and revitalize their determination for the removal of the regime," Sadek said.

"I hope that just as they have exhausted their patience for 30 years, this will not exhaust their efforts," said student Sarah Shams.

Sherif El Sayed of Chicago says one way or another, Mubarak will be gone. The protests will not stop until he is, but Sherif wonders what will happen next.

"Egypt has been from Nasser to Sadat to Mubarak -- all army people. You need something different, someone from country, from Egyptian," El Sayed said.

The Egyptian President did not say he was stepping down Thursday. He only said he was transferring some power to his vice [resident but didn't specify what power or when, and the enormous crowds in Tahrir Square erupted in anger.

Mubarak said he'll not run for the presidency again in September, but protesters say they will not wait until then.

"He wants to protect his own investment. It's a game. Whatever he's doing now, he's behind it 100 percent, and we know the army is backing up Mubarak," George Metry said.

"What he wants to make sure is he is still a player -- if not the actual puppet master, the man behind the curtain -- that the elites who govern make sure their interests are safeguarded," said DePaul University Professor Tom Mockaitis.

A massive demonstration had been planned for Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday, but the protestors thought it would be a celebration.

It will now be something different, and there would appear little doubt, it will be massive.