Celebration And Concern In Alexandria, Egypt

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In Egypt's second-largest city, there's a celebration that stretches the length of the city's famous seafront boulevard, the Corniche. Tens of thousands of people in Alexandria staged a march along that boulevard on Friday, and before they had finished, they got the news that Hosni Mubarak had stepped down. But the celebration comes with some very real concerns for the future.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

In Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, today's celebration stretched the length of the city's famous seafront boulevard, the Corniche.

But as NPR's Corey Flintoff reports, that celebration comes with some very real concerns for the future.

COREY FLINTOFF: Amid the blare of honking car horns and the crackle of fireworks, people are singing and dancing along the Corniche, where just hours before they'd marched to demand Mubarak's ouster.

Many of them are waving Egyptian flags, and a steady breeze from the Mediterranean is rippling the red, white and black stripes over the heads of the crowd.

Mr. AHMED HUSSEIN(ph) (Businessman): All Alexandria here now wake up. We will not sleep. We are staying in the street three weeks. We will make -celebrate for three weeks again.

FLINTOFF: That's Ahmed Hussein, a businessman who says his import-export trade dried up during the uprising against Mubarak, but that the cost was worth it.

I don't know what will happen, he says, something good for our country.

Many people brought their children in hopes that they will remember this day.

Mr. AMIR SALAMA(ph): And now we are free. We are free. I am Amir Salama and with my children, Fares(ph) and Salinas(ph), and my wife. We send all - the whole world, we are very happy Hosni Mubarak has stepped out.

(Soundbite of cheering crowd)

FLINTOFF: Not everyone is celebrating with unalloyed joy, and not everyone took part in the march before the news was known. Earlier this afternoon, just a block from the Alexandria demonstration, men watched Egypt's state-run television in a cafe.

One of the waiters, 46-year-old Ahmad Abdul-Reza(ph), says he believes that the president should go, but he disapproved of those who continued the protests.

Mr. AHMAD ABDUL-REZA (Waiter): (Foreign language spoken)

FLINTOFF: The youth had a lot of demands, he says, and Mubarak has done everything they wanted, so what more do they need? What's going on now is just vandalism.

Mr. AHMAD ATTA(ph) (Diving Instructor): It's a big mess, and I believe everyone have to just stay home now, you know? It's not - he's leaving, anyway. He already left. It's a big mess.

FLINTOFF: Ahmad Atta also spoke at the cafe before the news of Mubarak's departure broke. In his words, everyone knows the army will take over.

Atta is 23, a diving instructor who worked in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh before the uprising caused an exodus of foreign tourists. He says what faces Egypt now is nothing to be complacent about.

Mr. ATTA: It's actually - it's a scary day. It should be a scary day.

FLINTOFF: Still, most Alexandrines are determined to make the most of this night.

This is Samara Foyed(ph).

Ms. SAMARA FOYED: I'm so pleased. I'm so happy, so happy. Everyone here is so happy. Today is a day of joy and happiness, but tomorrow is day's work.

FLINTOFF: In case you didn't catch her last word, it was work. It may not be tomorrow, but Egyptians are in for a lot of work now that they've succeeded in bringing down the man who ruled them for the past 30 years.

Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Alexandria, Egypt.

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