Bay Area Egyptians observe protests from afar

January 30, 2011 5:24:08 PM PST
Egyptians around the Bay Area are anxiously watching the protests on TV and now that some internet service seems to be up and running again, they are making contact with their families.

Thousands of miles away from their homeland, a group of Egyptian Christians in Hayward were preoccupied, anxious and scared about the fate of their country Sunday. However, during their Coptic services, they managed to turn their concern into prayer.

For many of them, their family and friends back home are marching in the streets. The immigrants have a new home now, but they understand the frustrations in their native country all too well.

"Everything. Everything needs to change. We have been a country governed by oppression, by dictator, by police... There is no democracy. There is no freedom. There is no justice," says Wael Ghabrial who arrived to Santa Clara in 1999.

Corruption, political persecution, and poverty, the list of complaints goes on and on.

"The price of very essential things like bread, sugar, eggs, has doubled and tripled, while incomes have not increased," Magdy Girgis of Orinda says.

Life under President Mubarak's 30-year rule is just about all 28-year-old Emad Boutros knew. He moved to the U.S. two years ago. Even though protesters are demanding Mubarak step down, there is fear of what could come next.

"If this government is overthrown, the next strongest power on the streets is the Muslim extremists, and we are in fear they would take control and change the country," Boutros says.

Other than pray, local Egyptians say all they can do is wait for updates on Al-Jazeera television and monitor Facebook around the clock. A local couple that spoke with ABC7 knows one Bay Area Egyptian who was not content watching from afar. She flew to Egypt last week to march in the streets.

"She was just fired up by what was happening in Egypt. She's been a resident here for at least 20 years. She just wanted to be part of it," Yasmeen Daifallah of Oakland says.

She wanted to be part of, as these Egyptians see it, history in the making.