Experts want to see democracy flourish in Egypt

February 11, 2011 3:50:07 PM PST
Experts and Egyptian Americans in the Chicago area are considering what will happen next after President Hosni Mubarak resigned as president, forced out by 18 days of mass protests that culminated in huge marches Friday on his presidential palaces and state television.

Those with close ties to Egypt are hopeful that the next chapter of history with be peaceful and democratic.

For now, many are celebrating the news.

Friday prayers at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview followed the historic news. It was what some had prayed for.

"I think it's a great day for Egyptians, a great day for humanity 'cause the people got what they wanted, " said Nada Adderraman.

Some members of the mosque and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago shared their reactions to President Hosni Mubarak stepping down.

"I got so many calls from Egypt, from my sisters, from my in-laws," said Alla Fahmy. "They were all at Tahrir Square. And they call me and I realized it's reality, it's true. I could not control myself. I fall down crying," said Nada Adderraman.

Chicago's Egyptian -American community watched as thousand protested Mubarak's oppressive reign. Protesters of different faiths, ages and classes were drawn together to call for Mubarak's resignation.

Those who study the region say this is an historic lesson, especially for Chicagoans who prepare to vote in an upcoming election.

"For those of us who were born into democratic systems, who take democratic liberties and free elections for granted, this is a reminder of how people struggle to make that happen," said Wendy Pearlman, assistant professor of political science, Northwestern University.

DePaul University law professor M. Cheriff Bassiouni is among those Egyptian Americans watching from Chicago.

"It's almost a modern reliving of the American Declaration of Independence, of a group of people who are fighting for their independence," said Bassiouini.

While Professor Bassiouni hopes to see true democracy flourish in his native country, he is skeptical that Mubarak's influence on the government and military truly is over.

"The battle is still going on. As a former military officer, I'm not going call victory until I see the white flag come up on the other side, and it hasn't come up yet," said Bassiouini.

Professor Bassiouni is concerned that Mubarak may have made a deal with the military and may still have his hand in the next phase. While that may be a possibility, it is also the possibility that new leadership will take control of the government and the military.