Flash: Berkeley Reacts to News from Egypt

By Saul Sugarman (BCN)
Friday February 11, 2011 - 09:27:00 AM

The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak today was considered a favorable action by several Bay Area professors and residents who have been affected by recent events in the Middle East.  

"It's the best option we could have hoped for," said Robert Sproul, the assistant dean of development at University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, on Thursday when Mubarak was expected to step down.  

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Cairo over the past several days on rumors that Mubarak would step down, but the president surprised protesters Thursday by saying he would not resign, and instead delegate more power to Vice President Omar Suleiman.  

But Mubarak resigned his post today, Suleiman announced, which brought a wave of celebration in Egypt, according to media reports.  

"It's a moment of transformation that's taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change," President Obama said in a speech at Northern Michigan University on Thursday.  

"It's young people who have been at the forefront," Obama said. "A new generation, your generation, who want their voices to be heard."  

Saba Mahmood, a professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, said the protests and resignation of Mubarak is the biggest event in the Middle East in the past 60 years.  

"This uprising is going to be felt in every single country in the region," Mahmood said. "There is a huge concern whether there will be a transition to a true democratic process."  

Hisham Ahmed, a politics professor at Saint Mary's College of California, said the movement in Egypt and in surrounding Arab countries is irreversible and signifies the beginning of a revolutionary change.  

Ahmed said that the Obama administration must be vocal in its support for the Egyptian people.  

"It's a delicate situation for the Obama administration, but these are historic times. These are serious times," Ahmed said. "I hope the administration won't be making the mistake of sending a message to the Egyptians that their friendship with a dictator is more important than the welfare of the people."