Hundreds gather at UC Berkeley for Egypt discussion

February 11, 2011 12:13:41 AM PST
Hundreds showed up Thursday night for a UC Berkeley discussion about the uprising in Egypt, but it's the question of what will happen on Friday that was on most people's minds.

These days, the cell phone is what keeps Salma Mousallem in close contact with family and friends back home and knowing they're continuing the protests in Cairo's streets keeps her where she's supposed to be -- studying at UC Berkeley.

"I can't tell you the amount of times I've just wanted to jump on a plane and go because I fell like this is my revolution," said Mousallem.

She was among the hundreds who packed a Cal discussion about Egypt's uprising. It was supposed to be a review on the events and protests so far, but the Thursday's news that President Hosni Mubarak handed over power to his vice president, but refused to step down is what was on most minds.

"Why should we trust the established regime to be responsible for a transition to democracy when they're the ones that held back democracy for 30 years?" said City College of New York professor Moustafa Bayoumi.

Organizers in Egypt are calling for even bigger protests on Friday. Berkeley's head of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies says what happens will be crucial.

"We don't know where this is going to go. It could go in any direction, it could continue to be violent or it could actually become very peaceful, if there is some kind of process," said UC Berkeley professor Nezar Alsayyad.

For Mousallem, a 25-year-old Egyptian, she remains inspired, especially by an aunt who has spent the last 10 days camping out in Tahrir Square.

"She says we're planning for 'the millionae,' one million tomorrow and we're staying in Tahrir Square until he leaves," said Mousallem.

She is inspired for the future and excited for whatever Friday brings.

"Today has been really hard, especially all the buildup, so there was all of this positive news coming out that he was going to step down and I think everyone is just anticipating for tomorrow because tomorrow is going to be huge," said Mousallem.


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