Updated 02/12/11 – 5:50 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM) – The mood was celebratory as 100 people gathered outside the Egyptian consulate, one day after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned under pressure.
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“The moment is finally here,” said one woman, named Lena. “This is not a dream. I have pinched myself many times. They did it. They actually did it.”
But the mood of elation at the rally was tempered by others, such as speaker Dina Rashed of the Egyptian-American Society, who said creating democracy in Egypt will mean hard work.
“A lot of people look at it as the end of a regime, but we need to look at it as the beginning,” Rashed said. “It’s a new beginning a new formation of the consciousness not only of Egyptians but of the Arab masses.”
Mubarak stepped down one month after regime change in Tunisia, and a couple of speakers at the rally predicted additional changes in regimes across north Africa.
One speaker said now is the time for Americans to visit Egypt, to show their support for change. And yet another said the Egyptian election expected to occur later this year stands to be its first truly democratic election ever.
Meantime, as CBS 2′s Mike Puccinelli reports, at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Burr Ridge, dozens gathered to commemorate the lives that were lost when Islamic extremists attacked a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on New Year’s Eve.
Marian Sami’s uncle was one of the ministers on duty in Alexandria when a car bomb exploded, claiming the lives of two dozen people and injuring more than a hundred.
“No video, no pictures, no words can possibly describe the horror and the terror that we felt that night,” she said.
It’s because of attacks like that, that Egyptian Christians felt like they’re are a people under siege in their own homeland.
Christians make up about 10 to 15 percent of the Egyptian population.
They have been worshiping in Egypt for nearly 2,000 years, but they say in the past 20 years, the persecution of Egyptian Christians has escalated dramatically.
But the events in Cairo have given Egyptian Christians reason to hope that things will get better now that the dictator who ignored their plight is gone.
They are also encouraged by the spirit of interfaith cooperation was captured on tape in Cairo as Christians and Muslims celebrated together in Tahrir Square after Mubarak’s resignation.
Three strongmen have dominated Egyptian politics since 1952 — Gamal Abdel Nasser, who died of a heart attack in 1970; Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated in 1981; and Hosni Mubarak, who resigned Friday.