Chicagoans celebrate Egypt's freedom

February 12, 2011 6:53:33 AM PST
The revolution in Egypt triggered a celebration outside the Egyptian Consulate in Chicago.

People in the area with close ties to Egypt are hopeful the next chapter in that country's history will be peaceful and democratic.

Egyptians in Chicago are overjoyed, and they're an example of how Facebook and Twitter really played a part in the revolution in getting the message out to the masses.

A local supporter mentioned on Facebook that everyone should get together to celebrate, so dozens of people showed up on Michigan Avenue Friday night.

"This is the happiest moment of my life. I was born in 1985. I have not seen a president other than Mobarak. I'm worried a little bit, but it's a great moment," said Tamer Abouzeid.

Hosni Mubarak stepping down, ending of his 30-year rule of Egypt, sparked an impromptu rally in front of the Egyptian Consulate on Michigan Avenue.

While there, people sang the Egyptian national anthem.

"Every beautiful part in our life just came in those few moments today," said Sherif Zaki.

"For me, this is a big historical moment. It marks the end of corruption, oppression, a lot of things that were crippling the Egyptian economy, Egyptian social progress," said Northwestern University law student Amira Shaker.

In Egypt, Chicagoan Ahmed Rehab was at the presidential palace when he heard Mubarak was gone.

"It was an awesome place to receive the news, an awesome conclusion to what was an amazing vacation for me here. From day one, I've been part of this and to see the conclusion has been wonderful," Rehab said.

Rehab said international support, including here in Chicago, helped.

"I would like to thank everybody in Chicago who supported us, the support of the Egyptian people. The Egyptian people know the support. They appreciate it and they say thank you very much," Rehab said.

Also in Cairo, photojournalist Matt Cassel of Chicago captured history on camera.

"This is monumental. This is history happening as we speak today," Cassel said. "Cars are honking, people are setting off fireworks. People are congratulating each other, kissing each other. It's a very joyous celebration."

It's a new beginning, some say, that will respect and embrace all religions in Egypt.

"I pray every day that the new year, new days coming will be better for Christians and for all Egyptians, because we're all brothers after all," said Dr. Wagih Nessim, St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church of Chicago.

For the last two weeks, demonstrators have gathered in front of the Egyptian Consulate.

Organizers planned a rally for noon Saturday before Mubarak stepped down. Instead of a protest, they are now calling it a celebration.