Last updated: August 25. 2013 12:55AM - 49 Views

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LIMA — “Ecstatic, to say the least!” was Maha Zeherey's reaction Friday to news of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, ending 18 days of protest against Mubarak's 30-year dictatorship.Zehery, an Egyptian native living in Elida, said she was celebrating in spirit with the jubilant throngs in Cairo's Tahrir Square where the revolution unfolded.She said she couldn't be more proud of the Egyptian youths who held their ranks against pro-Mubarak police and the intimidation of other Mubarak supporters.“The Egyptians didn't ransack, burn or ruin anything — unlike Mubarak's thugs,” Zehery posted on her Facebook page shortly after Mubarak announced his resignation. “See how there's unity between Muslims and Copts. See how there's no sexual harassment. Folks, this is Egypt and the Egyptian people!” Zehery gave credit to the young adults and students who represent a growing majority under Mubarak's entrenched and stagnating regime. “No one helped [at first] except the youth, then everyone joined along, even us Egyptian Americans here,” she said. “No Iran, no Mosaad, no Muslim Brotherhood. Just a true and honest revolution against dictatorship and corruption.”Zehery said she's very confident young Egyptians will continue to press their demands for reform. She said she continues hearing worries about the Muslim Brotherhood's involvement in the protests, but “I am not at all concerned” that Islamic extremists might try to wrest control. Also Friday, a Lima woman who lived 18 years in Egypt learned her husband is returning stateside in a few days.Sondra West said Ed West and other American employees of a General Dynamics factory in suburban Cairo will be returning to the United States on Monday. The plant is under contract with the Egyptian government to make Abrams tanks identical to those made in Lima.“I really don't know what will happen next in Egypt,” she said Friday. “I've been in contact with friends still in Egypt, by e-mail and Facebook, and I'm happy for them. I hope they get the right people in leadership now.”The General Dynamics employees were flown out of Egypt on Feb. 1, the day before violent clashes broke out between pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators in Tahrir Square in central Cairo. Since then, they have been in Amsterdam awaiting word on whether they'd return to Egypt or the United States.Speaking about the protests and Mubarak's resignation, West said when she and her husband moved to Egypt in 1991, most people there had no perception of what life was like outside Egypt. Internet didn't exist and CNN wasn't available. The only three American programs airing back then — “Knott's Landing,” “Dallas” and “Dynasty” — gave a distorted view of American morals and values, she said.“They were told to accept hardship, that's how it is everywhere, and they didn't have a choice because that's all they knew,” she said.Since then, social networking and 24-hour international news coverage have exposed the Egyptian people to some of the freedoms and prosperity other nations enjoy, she said.“We may not always like who's our president or other leaders, but we're all in on the decision who they'll be,” she said. “The Egyptian people have decided they want that freedom, too.” West said she's not sure what make of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the organizations driving the protests that unseated Mubarak. She said she watched a recent television interview where a spokesman refused to answer whether Egypt would continue to honor peace treaties with Israel.After 18 years in Egypt, West returned to Lima in 2009 while her husband continued working there. She said the plan was for him to retire and return stateside “in a few years or so.”Ed West, a quality control supervisor, told his wife he'll be working in General Dynamics' Detroit-area plant and commute to Lima on weekends. She said she hopes General Dynamics eventually will resume production in its Cairo plant. “It's a beautiful facility and we still have a government contract with Egypt,” she said. She said she felt bad for the American families who left behind all their personal belongings, including pets. She hopes they can reclaim their property.General Dynamics spokesman Peter M. Keating, reached by cell phone, said he could not comment because the Michigan plant was closed Friday and he was away from his office.You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.


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