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Eastside Egyptians Celebrate Mubarak's Resignation

More than 50 people, both adults and children, came to NE 8th Street and Bellevue Way NE Friday night in celebration of the resignation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

For Egyptians all over the world, including Bellevue, Friday was liberation day.

More than 50 people waved flags, sang and handed out flowers and candy to passersby near Bellevue Square Friday night to celebrate the stepping down of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"Free at last, free at last!" some chanted while waving the Egyptian flag at the corner of NE 8th St. and Bellevue Way.

Samiha Korshed, a biotech worker from Redmond, handed out candy from a plate labeled "Celebrate Egypt" to all passersby in front of Bellevue Square.

"I wanted to share my happiness with what has been accomplished," said Korshed, who moved to the United States from Egypt in 1974. "It's so amazing."

Weeks of protests in Egypt, which included the deaths and injuries to some, resulted in Mubarak's announcement that he would vacate the country's presidency, which he has held for 30 years.

Mubarak had been a political ally of the United States, according to news reports, but Egyptians characterized his era as one that stripped away the rights of citizens and that did little to support the residents' basic needs.

Mubarak, who in 1981, resigned Friday after protests in Egypt grew to involve hundreds of thousands of people surrounding the presidential residence in Cairo.

In Bellevue, Eastside Egyptian families brought their children, passed out flags and waved at passing cars in celebration of the news. The rally was quickly organized in a few hours, with many people hearing about it from Facebook, rally attendees said.

"We won. This is such a big occasion to celebrate," said Bellevue businessman Rafat Rashwan.

Rashwan, who moved to the United States from Egypt in 1984, said that government corruption had risen during Mubarak's time, but that dissident political opinion was suppressed, including the changing of the country's constitution to restrict who could vote and who could run for office.

"The joke there was that he would need a type of surgery to take him from his chair," Rashwan said. "This is amazing. No one could believe that one day you'd see someone different in office."

The announcement came one day after Mubarak suggested he would stay in power, which angered many and triggered massive protests around the presidential residence in Cairo.

"It was such a letdown," Korshed said, referring to Mubarak's actions on Thursday.

When the news came that Mubarak would leave and cede power to the military, which supported the democratic protests "I fell off my chair," she said. "I just started crying. It was a wonderful wonderful feeling."

"I also felt sadness for the people who had sacrificed their lives for this," she said. "But freedom isn't cheap."

Asmma Taha of Redmond, who moved to the United States from Egypt three years ago to take a job with Microsoft, was overjoyed to see Egypt free itself from Mubarak's rule.

"This is to let the world know that we did it, and we're free," she said.

Zeina Askar of Redmond, who was handing out lollipops, said she came in support of the Egyptians, and she had similar hopes that other Arab countries would follow suit.

"We're hoping that we get rid of all these dictators, and those countries will have their basic freedoms and human rights," she said.


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