Local Egyptian-Americans Pray for Peace

Middle East expert in South Florida says radical takeover of Egypt is less likely

By Jeff Burnside
|  Tuesday, Feb 1, 2011  |  Updated 7:30 AM EDT
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The unrest in Egypt was starkly contrasted by the peace and solemnity inside the incense-filled cathedral at St. John The Baptist Coptic Church in Miramar Monday night, where many Egyptian-American parishioners turned to a prayer vigil for guidance.

The unrest in Egypt was starkly contrasted by the peace and solemnity inside the incense-filled cathedral at St. John The Baptist Coptic Church in Miramar Monday night, where many Egyptian-American parishioners turned to a prayer vigil for guidance.

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South Florida Student Stuck in Egypt

Amanda Labora, a Brown University student from South Florida is stuck in Alexandria.
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The unrest in Egypt was starkly contrasted by the peace and solemnity inside the incense-filled cathedral at St. John The Baptist Coptic Church in Miramar Monday night, where many Egyptian-American parishioners turned to a prayer vigil for guidance.

Outside the church after the service, the Ibrahim family talked about the history unfolding where friends and family are in the midst of the turmoil they see on TV everyday.
 
"I'd like everyone to pray for the people of Egypt to find good solution," said Nabih Ibrahim. "Very quickly."
 
His son, 12-year-old Kiarolos, said he still talks to his friends back home.
 
"They said the situation's very bad," Kiarolos said. "I'm really concerned, I told them, like, to stay in the house, not go outside."
 
Meanwhile at Florida International University, James Zogby, head of the Arab-American Institute and a top expert on public opinion in the Middle East, said the likelihood of a ardical takeover in Egypt is waning.

According to Zogby, the Egyptian military is distancing itself from embattled President Hosni Mubarak as millions are preparing to protest Tuesday.

Zogby used his new book, Arab Voices, and his public opinion polling in Middle Eastern nations to emphasize how little we understand about Arab nations where so many disdain American policies even though 65 percent love American values.
 
He described one such response to a crowd of several dozen during a lecture.
 
"He said, ‘you know, it is said in your country that we don't like you. We actually love you. We don't feel you love us and we feel, I guess, like jilted lovers. We want to be respected and don't feel that we are.'"
 
Zogby says the Egyptian military, which is far more the pillar of Egyptian government than the President, remains popular. But he says whoever runs the government will make changes.
 
"One of the reasons for (Mubarak’s) unpopularity has been his support for American initiatives despite the tremendous unpopularity of American policy on the Egyptian street," Zogby said.
 
Zogby says the Obama administration is playing it just right by not making overly strident pronouncements, winning favor among many Egyptians by simply staying out of their internal struggle.
 
Meanwhile, several South Floridians evacuated out of Egypt today were flown to Athens and are returning to Florida tomorrow and in coming days.

Amanda Labora, a Brown University student from South Florida is stuck in Alexandria. NBC Miami spoke with Labora Monday as she sat at the airport, waiting on a chartered evacuation jet with 23 other American students.

"The situation here is not getting any better, it's getting a lot worse," Labora said.

The 21-year-old said she's getting an up close look at history in the making.

"I have to say, this is definitely the most terrifying experience of my life but also something beautiful," she said. "They're asking to have a government that they approve of, they're asking to have a legitimate means for political dissent, and as an American, I'm really proud to see this happening."

And the unrest in Egypt may affect South Florida in another way: Oil prices pushed eight percent higher in trading, as investors fear shipping lanes in the Suez Canal may be disrupted.

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