It's as if we were drowning and somebody rescued us'
- Since the uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak began
last month, Vancouver's Matteo Amed Yacoub hasn't gotten much sleep.
who moved to Canada from Alexandria 30 years ago, has been staying up
every night, glued to news coverage of the protests.
[four] laptops were beside me day and night — I had one with CNN, one
with BBC, one with Al Arabiya, one with Al Jazeera. I was watching
everything at the same time," said Yacoub. "I had to take over another
bedroom because my wife couldn't take it anymore."
Last night, Yacoub's lack of sleep finally caught up with him and he dozed off for a couple of hours.
When he awoke, his four computers had all gone to sleep.
went to the bathroom to brush my teeth," he said. "I had my phone with
me to check messages and I saw the news [of Mubarak's resignation]. I
went to the balcony, took a deep breath and wanted to scream. ... I
wanted this to happen so badly. It's unbelievable."
the chef at Bistro de Paris, has a big pre-Valentine's Day crowd coming
for dinner tonight. But he doesn't feel the least bit tired.
"There's a joy inside me that's keeping the energy going," he said.
Yacoub said his family has wanted Mubarak to leave for decades but never thought he could actually be forced out.
"These people have so much power," he said. "I'm shaking as I'm talking to you because this was not supposed to happen."
said he's been worrying about his family in Alexandria, in particular
his sister, who has been taking part in the protests.
Even his 83-year-old father — who is in a wheelchair — attended the protests one day.
father, he wanted to attend, he wanted to be there," said Yacoub. "I
gave her hell for doing it but [my sister] managed to make him mobile,
put him in a vehicle and took him there just to sit and watch. This was a
moment he wanted to see. He said, 'Now I can die.'"
Algarf, a 23-year-old joint citizen of Egypt and Bahrain studying
journalism at the University of B.C., said he fell asleep on his couch
watching the news around 5 a.m. Friday.
"I woke up to the
BBC blaring in the background saying Mubarak has resigned," said Algarf.
"It was the best thing to wake up to. ... It's so euphoric. I really
can't explain it."
Algarf said he had several friends
taking part in the protests at Tahrir Square, who he's been keeping in
touch with via text message and Twitter.
"I had really
conflicting feelings," he said. "I was really worried about them,
especially when there was all the violence. On the other hand, I was
extremely jealous because I wished I was there.... I don't think in my
lifetime something so monumental will happen again."
Algarf said he's worried how long the military will stay in charge in Egypt and how smooth the transition to democracy will be.
when the news came out, I said I'm going to give myself a couple of
hours to celebrate instead of worrying about what comes next," he said.
Habib, an Egyptian in Surrey who has lived in Canada for 34 years, said
he was "absolutely ecstatic," that Mubarak was leaving.
Habib, a Coptic Christian, said he's been living in Canada so long he no longer paid that much attention to Egyptian politics.
wasn't like I was following closely who was in or who was out," he
said. "But ever since this uprising on January 25th, I've been glued to
Habib, 58, said most of his relatives in Egypt
were too old to take part in the protests themselves. But he still
worried about their safety if things spiralled out of control.
was calling them almost every day to make sure they were OK," he said.
"They were telling me about what was happening and how in every building
the young, able people were taking shifts guarding the building to
prevent thugs from breaking in and those kinds of things. ... It was a
very worrying time."
Habib said, since the protests began,
he was optimistic Mubarak would eventually leave — up until the
president's speech Thursday suggesting he would stay.
"After his defiant speech last night, it looked like things were going to get much, much worse," said Habib.
Bisenty Abdel-Messih Gerges heads a congregation of 200 families at the
St. George's Coptic Orthodox Egyptian Church in Surrey, including
Gerges, who has been in Canada for 24 years, said
Copts have not fared well under Mubarak's regime and his entire
congregation is pleased Mubarak is finally leaving.
as if we were sinking down and drowning and somebody rescued us," he
said. "We're happy and looking forward to a much brighter future."
Gerges said one of the encouraging things about the protest is that it involved both Christians and Muslims.
are with our Muslim fellow citizens," he said. "We love them, we want a
better life for every Egyptian citizen, whether Christian or Muslim."
The Egyptian community in Metro Vancouver is relatively small.
According to the 2006 census, just 2,120 residents in Metro Vancouver identified their ethnicity as Egyptian.