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Shadia: Dreams are coming true in Egypt

Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.

May 23, 2012|By Mona Shadia

Something amazing is happening.

Something I only dreamed about and thought it would always remain a dream.

For the first time in Egypt's thousands of years of existence — a history marked with glory and failures — its citizens are deciding who should lead them as president.

I used to think I'd see peace between the Palestinians and Israelis before I saw the birth of democracy in Egypt.

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It wasn't because I didn't think Egyptians weren't capable. I knew all along that my people were brave, that they could break away from the shackles of dictatorship, that they knew they deserved better. I just felt that Egyptians were too kind, too forgiving, too accepting — even too thankful — of their conditions to demand something better.

When Egyptians took to Tahrir Square, I wasn't shocked, but excitement and pride took over my entire being. When Mubarak stepped down, I cried with relief.

When the first-ever presidential debate between the top two candidates was playing on Egyptian television two weeks ago — with people hovering over it in homes and hookah cafes like they do for soccer games — I was jumping in my chair at the office. And now, as they stand in miles-long lines to vote, my heart is beating with joy.

But then there are those Negative Nancys out there who say democracy in Egypt and the Arab world isn't gonna happen, because, you know, it's already been a year and a half and democracy and order hasn't taken over Egypt yet.

For those who think democracy happens overnight, that it's not a tedious and frustrating process, that each of its steps doesn't take hard work, failure, sweat and sacrifice, let me remind you of America's road to democracy.

Not every American wanted independence from the British. There wasn't just one unified military, but several groups, each with its own mission and agenda.

Even after independence, there were many failures leading up to the writing of the Constitution. And it took many fights and long nights to get it done for the majority of Americans to agree we should be the United States of America. Why would it be any different somewhere else?

But, of course, uncertainty is looming. That pathetic uncertainly! Always hanging around, taunting me, bursting my bubble!

I listened to the founder and president of theWashington, D.C.-based Arab American Institute, James Zogby, speak Thursday at the World Affairs Council of Orange County about Arab voices and what they're saying to us.

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