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Egyptian protests give local transplants cautious hope for region's future


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Many Arab-Americans in New York embraced the Egyptian uprising as a welcome revolution that could instigate a widespread push for democracy throughout the Middle East, but some cautioned of dangerous new uncertainties that now dangle over the region.

“This is the best thing that could’ve happened to Egypt,” said Ali A El Sayed, 60, who was born there and owns Kabab Cafe in Astoria. “We needed change to the system, not just the president, but to the system and constitution and elected officials.”

Sayed suggested that Egypt could only be the beginning.

“So many places in the Middle East need change like Egypt needed it, and what the people there have done is a model. They will be inspired.”

Egypt-born Samir Rahman, 56, of Rockaway Park, agreed.

“The chaos that’s happening there is temporary, but it’s a must. It has to happen for the change the people need,” he said. “Other countries see this, and see what’s happened in Tunisia, and I think the chances that they will follow is high.”

Still, the question of what could follow the regime of President Hosni Mubarak has some wondering whether the worst is actually ahead for Egypt.

“Egypt has needed internal changes for a long, long time” said Basem Hendawi, 35, of Forest Hills. “But that doesn’t mean the president should step down. That would open up a political emptiness, and from there the country could descend further into chaos.”

Still, Hendawi sees promise in what this revolution may bring.

“The security of the people and changes in the constitution for more freedom are the priorities, not the person who will replace Mubarak.”

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