Columbia residents reflect on Mubarak's resignation

Friday, February 11, 2011 | 6:49 p.m. CST; updated 6:26 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 12, 2011

COLUMBIA — MU doctoral student Farid El-Sayed had just entered his 10 a.m. class when his phone was flooded with calls from his homeland of Egypt. Something had happened, but he was optimistic.

"I felt that there was something good happening," El-Sayed said. "I stepped out of class, and then I got the news."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned, ending a 30-year regime. Hounded by pro-democratic protesters for the past two weeks, the announcement signaled a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

El-Sayed, 25, said this is the ultimate victory for Egyptians, who were protesting Mubarak the political leader, not Mubarak the person.

"We don’t want anything bad for him," El-Sayed said. "Unlike other countries who would want their president to be killed, Egyptians are very emotionally peaceful, very forgiving."

The resignation comes as great relief to Joseph J. Hobbs, professor and chairman of the MU department of geography. Thursday, he said he feared the worst.

"Today I was expecting to see a confrontation between the army and protesters," Hobbs said. "Now I’m watching all the crowds celebrating on television, and I’m celebrating along with them."

Hobbs, who spent six years in Egypt, said he feels the event will trigger a complete restructuring of the country's political system.

"We’ll see an unprecedented democratic system put in place, which the country hasn’t seen before," Hobbs said. "The great bulk of Egyptians won’t settle for anything less."

While this is a major victory in Egypt’s democratic revolution, the process isn’t over. The country’s secret police force still exists, and it’s up to the new transitional government to dissolve it.

Hobbs said if the army takes up the role of security, the country will be reasonably stable.

"I’d be fearful if they do anything that the country did in the past to repress any sort of individual expression," Hobbs said.

While appreciative of his opportunity to study in the United States, El-Sayed said he feels that now is the time for his fellow professors and doctoral students to return to Egypt — the new Egypt.

"It’s time for us to get our degrees and go build a new, skillful, well-educated generation," El-Sayed said. "This revolution showed how the Egyptians work as a community, how they love their country and are ready to die for the sake of it."

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