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Local residents give voice to Middle East conflict

Egyptians want freedom and choice, Roseville resident says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Middle Eastern-Americans are speaking out about the situation in the Middle East, including the resignation of a dictator and strained relations between Israel and Palestine. Auburn resident Arij Mousa is a Palestinian-American. Mousa said she thinks the result of the Egyptian revolution is a good one. “What’s happening in Egypt I think it’s a positive thing and a good thing for the civilians,” Mousa said. “They seem happy. Change is good sometimes. It sounds like it’s a good thing for the Egyptians.” Mousa said she has family in Bethlehem and Ramallah in the Palestinian Territories and in Kuwait and Dubai, and conflicts haven’t posed any communication problems so far. Mousa said it’s difficult to watch current Middle Eastern events on the news without being able to be with her family. “My heart goes out for them, and I wish there was anything I could do to be there for them, support them,” she said. “All these years living in it, they have gotten used to it, like it’s nothing out of the norm for them, because that’s how it’s been for many many years.” Mousa said she and other Palestinian-Americans often feel like there is more American backing for Israel than Palestine, and she hopes in the future support for the two will become more even and that peace will come to both sides of the conflict. “I think (Americans) should get more involved,” Mousa said. “Read more up on it, get involved, see how they can support and help. I’m not siding with one against the other, I’d just like to see peace in the Middle East.” Roseville resident Youssry Suliman is an Egyptian-American. Suliman said he thinks the public protests in Egypt that led to the Feb. 11 resignation of President Hosni Mubarak impacted the Middle East as a whole. “All the Middle East is really connected, and what happened in Egypt probably affects all the Middle East,” Suliman said. “Egypt is kind of the center of culture, and movies and music. Egypt is kind of the center of what is going on in the Middle East. There are a lot of people from Egypt working in all the other Middle Eastern countries.” Suliman said he was happy when former president Hosni Mubarak resigned, but not everyone he talks to feels the same way. “The corruption (under Mubarak) was very difficult, and most people were feeling that, so I was very happy,” he said. “However, some people in Egypt I know, friends and some people, have mixed feelings because of having freedom or having a conditional period of chaos of not knowing. I think the changes, everybody was wondering when it would happen. There must be some changes, it’s not a surprise, but it was kind of interesting to see.” Suliman said he wants Americans to understand who the average Egyptian is. “They want freedom,” Suliman said. “They want the right to choose their president. It’s been a long time since there was a democratic election in Egypt or any country in the Middle East. (Egyptians youth) are like American kids, and everybody wanted the same thing.” Suliman said he has a sister with two children who live in Cairo. During the revolution Internet and phone service were cut, and Suliman couldn’t communicate with them. “After that everyone was writing,” he said. Suliman said he has positive hopes for the future of the country. “People were scared, but thank God things got under control quickly, and Mubarak resigned and things seem like they are moving in the right direction,” he said. “But they are still not out of the woods yet. I think it will take time, but I am optimistic that maybe democracy is finally coming to town.” Auburn resident Badir “Bud” Mousa is a Palestinian-American. Bud Mousa said he also hopes the conflict in Egypt will lead to peace. “I think Egypt will settle out fairly soon, whether it will actually be democratic that quickly, I don’t know,” Bud Mousa said. “I think Barack Obama has probably been more genuine, other than Jimmy Carter, about wanting to do something positive in the Middle East, for the people of the Middle East. All across Africa, and in the heart of the Middle East, things are going to change. Saudi Arabia is going to be a very difficult one to roll … because it’s the country that has all the oil.” Bud Mousa said although he loves the United States, he also hopes for a more balanced support in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Mousa said he thinks Arab people are shown as something less than positive in American media, and he wishes that could change. “Our media in general is not very good at representing the Middle East,” he said. “They represent the Middle East from Washington’s perspective, rather than a reality. Ninety-nine percent of the Middle Eastern population … love the United States, love our way of life, love the democracy, etc.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com