Local profs predict Egypt's public will prevail

URBANA – Two local professors say Hosni Mubarak's late-night speech will only cause him more troubles until he takes real action.

Mohammad Khalil, who teaches religious history at the University of Illinois, said Thursday he was dismayed by the Egyptian president's speech.

"This is extremely disappointing," Khalil said via e-mail. "But I believe the people will prevail. The momentum for change is irreversible."

Khalil, whose mother continues to live in Egypt, said the people of Egypt would not tolerate waiting for Mubarak's promise of change after September elections.

"Change must come now. That is the nature of revolutions," he said.

UI linguistics lecturer Aladdin Elaasar published a book in 2009 that predicted what has unfolded in Egypt.

"The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age" was first published in paperback by Beacon Press in 2009 and has been banned the Mubarak regime. Elaasar is also the author of "Silent Victims: The Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in Post 9/11 America" and "For Stars and Stripes: American-Arabs in the U.S. Military."

Elaasar shared Khalil's disappointment.

"Many people were expecting him to step down. This will enrage people, and we will see more demonstrations. There will be massive rallies" today, he predicted.

Elaasar said Mubarak has been using "the same tactics" to manipulate the media and his people as he stalls to stay in power.

"I don't think he can stay in power until September (elections). The people have rejected him and his regime," he said.

Elaasar also said Mubarak's attempts to stay in power may imperil his move to a safe haven, such as one Saudi Arabia is rumored to have offered.

"Some countries are not going to accept him with open arms now. He's trying to waste more time until he figures out how to deal with his human rights abuses. Do you want to be seen as a haven for foreign dictators?" he asked of neighboring countries.

Elaasar predicted little success for the next regime unless it ends emergency rule, grants freedom of the press and enacts other reforms.

"If they just replace one dictatorship with another, it won't work," he said.

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