New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) As Egypt celebrated the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade-long rule Friday night, students from the Arab world studying here rejoiced with them. Glued to the internet for the latest update until now, they are now keeping a close watch on what happens next.
Most students said their happiness is more for the people of Egypt whose voice was finally heard than over the end of Mubarak’s rule.
Mubarak stepped down Friday following an uprising that began Jan 25 in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and quickly spread across the country. The 18 days of vehement protests ended Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule.
Raed Kassab from Palestine, studying architecture at the Jamia Milia Islamia, said: “My first reaction to the news was happiness…and I am very happy not so much for Mubarak stepping down as for the people of Egypt because they finally got what they wanted”.
“I am one of those people from Gaza who has had to face a lot of problem in Egypt. I had got a scholarship to study here in Jamia but I arrived nine months late because the border was closed. Even the treatment at the airport is very bad, so I hope that now things will change,” Kassab told IANS.
Echoing similar sentiments, Ibrahim Abu Ghail – a Palestinian who is pursuing his Ph.D. in computer sciences in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) – said he hopes that the situation in Egypt will change for the better after the end of Mubarak’s rule.
“When you leave Gaza in Palestine and come to Egypt, you are not free to roam around. You just can’t stay in peace…I hope that now when I go to Gaza or am coming back to India, I will be free to walk around in Egypt,” Ghail said.
“Palestine hopes that the various issues will be solved. We support peace but we also like our dignity,” he added.
For those like Saif Jewad from Iraq, the “victory” of the Egyptian people is good news for the entire Arab world.
“I am very happy because it’s the end of a dictatorship. I am happy that the Arab world is more free and it’s the beginning of a new phase,” Jewad told IANS.
A Ph.D. student of linguistics in the JNU, Jewad, however, added that he is now closely monitoring the news to see what happens next.
“I am keeping a close watch on the news on the internet to know what happens next. I am expecting more such things to happen, maybe in Jordan, Syria,” he said.
Ali Alwasouf from Syria – a fourth year doctorate student in the JNU – said he has been watching the events unfold live on internet.
“I have been watching the events live 24 hours for the past two days. When the protests started, I knew that no dictator will go off easily but I was betting on the army. If the army remained neutral, as in Tunisia, then there was a chance for success,” Alwasouf said.
“Now we are speculating – who’s next. Some people say Algeria, I think it could be Jordan but it will not be against the king, but the government. Syria is different from Egypt. People strongly subscribe to the foreign policy of the regime in Syria against Israel and the United States,” he added.
Speculations are also rife about what will happen in Egypt next – after the euphoria has died down.
“In Egypt, the most dangerous part has started now. I doubt the elections will be democratic. I tell my friends that Egypt is like a small India. The poor will get swayed to vote by money or other factors, and educated people are polarised,” Alwasouf told IANS.
Similarly Kassab said: “I am worried about what will happen next in Egypt. In Iraq too, Saddam Hussain was forced to step down, but the country still has its issues”.
“In fact, before Mubarak’s announcement, Al-Jazeera showed interviews of different Egyptian parties and everybody said something different on what is to be done next. It shows that while there was unity in protesting, the thought process of the people is not the same,” he added.