Thursday, February 17, 2011

Celebrating ‘a new Egypt’?

Dozens of families gathered at a Lauderhill park to celebrate from afar the promise and possibilities of an Egyptian homeland reborn.

They had been here before, these fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, friends. But Sunday was profoundly different, an afternoon of fellowship to mark a historic moment in Egypt’s long march to freedom. The picnic included traditional cuisine such as bashamel, potato puree, stuffed cabbage and ground beef pie.

And a chocolate birthday cake, crowned with a number zero candle.

“We feel we have a new Egypt today. It is a new baby, with new beginnings,’’ says pharmacist Mohamed Apoumoussa, 37, as he sat on a bench at the Central Broward Regional Park. “Egypt is changed forever.’’

For years, these families — from Pembroke Pines to Coral Springs — have gathered at this park or others regularly to dine, bond and share what it means to be Egyptian American. But this Sunday, just 48 hours after President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, after a seismic political and social shift in Egypt unfolded, the celebration was rooted in the country’s next chapter.

“For so long, it’s been a nightmare with all the corruption and the oppression. People could barely make a living,’’ says Adel Eltantawy, 45, a pharmacist living in Pembroke Pines who was raised in Egypt’s northern region. “We are so happy because now the people can have a new life.’’

The popular 18-day anti-government protest was built on the backs of Egypt’s empowered young protesters and opposition groups armed with passion and technology. They took to Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a non-violent secular movement that never swayed from its central message: President Hosni Mubarak must go, and there must be democratic reform.

The overwhelming majority of Egyptian Americans are Coptic Christians, who fled Islamic anti-Christian discrimination, bigotry and prejudice.

These Christian refugees from oppression are not celebrating the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in their homeland.

For some reason, our media insists on spinning this story differently.

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