12 Feb 2011

NZ Egyptians celebrate in squares closer to home

6:15 pm on 12 February 2011

About 100 members of the Egyptian community in Christchurch and Auckland came out on Saturday to celebrate the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

About 50 people, many of them families with small children, gathered in Christchurch's Cathedral Square to share food and compare stories.

A line of people waved flags and danced in a circle around the crowd, chanting and singing to Egyptian music.

Many, like Sherif Tawfeek, hadn't slept all night as they anticipated what might happen (the announcement of the resignation came at 5am NZ time).

Mr Tawfeek says it's difficult to explain how exciting the news is but he's over the moon.

Shadia Amin was overcome with emotion as she explained how amazing it is that Mr Mubarak has finally stepped down after 30 years.

In Auckland, about 50 New Zealand Egyptians celebrated in Aotea Square.

Mohamed Hassan, who helped organise the gathering, says they have been coming to the square since the protests began in Egypt and are now looking forward to a democratic election in their home country.

Sociologist expects big changes

An Egyptian living in New Zealand expects Mr Mubarak's departure to trigger widespread changes across the Arab world.

Sociologist Ahmed Tarek Baghat Abaza, of the Egyptian Association at Canterbury University, says the event is a great moment and a triumph for people power.

Until now, he says, change in Egypt always came from the top.

But he says the regime and especially the military are still in control, so the establishment of democracy may take some time.