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US Arabs Offer Opinions About Protests

  • Deborah Block

Egyptian protesters perform Friday prayers during a protest in Tahrir or Liberation Square in Cairo, Egypt, Feb 4, 2011

Members of the Arab community in the Washington, DC area have been closely watching the recent protests against several governments in the Middle East.

Mondher Selmane from Tunisia is relaxing at the Dewan Café in Virginia. He says the protests in Tunisia that led to the ouster of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali have given him a sense of freedom. Salmane says before the president fled he would have been afraid to give his political views on camera.

"And for the first time I feel I can talk openly," said Selmane.

At the Jerusalem Café nearby, customers discuss the demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Essam Dhab works at the restaurant. He says it's not enough that Mr. Mubarak says he will not run again in September's elections. He says Mr. Mubarak should resign now.

"A million people ask the president to just go and he doesn’t want to," said Dhab. "A lot of people get killed and hurt on the street for what? He wants to keep his position? For me, that doesn’t make any sense."

Ahmed Darjham, a customer, agrees. But he says the Egyptian leader kept the country stable and he is concerned about what will happen next.

"When he goes away, everything will just be a lot of mess," Darjham.

Nahed Abutaa, a Palestinian, owns the restaurant. She thinks if Mr. Mubarak is removed, that will affect the rest of the Middle East.

"It’s not only about fixing the situation in Egypt, but it brings hope to all Arab people," Abutaa said.

Selmane hopes the future will be bright in his home country, Tunisia.

"I am very optimistic because my people are free," said Selmane.

He says he feels the time is right for more democracy in the Middle East.