Mubarak speech stuns UK Egyptians



-- Feelings of elation and hope collapsed into anger and frustration as ardent anti-Mubarak protesters in London listened in disbelief as Egypt's president refused to step down.

Sitting in a Lebanese restaurant in the heart of the Arab community on London's Edgware Road, all eyes were fixed on a television screen in the corner of the room; the change in mood palpable with groans and shouts as President Hosni Mubarak made his intentions clear.

After the speech, 22-year-old student Mohamed Ezeldin Ahmed told CNN he was bitterly disappointed by the news. "I am angry and frustrated: we thought he was going but Mubarak just doesn't get the message.

"He's playing a game with the Egyptian people who are kind and forgiving. Mubarak is trying to create conflict between the people so they fight within themselves: he wants civil war."

London-based make-up artist Sally Ibrahim, 23, has been protesting outside the Egyptian Embassy every day. She thought Friday would be her last day on the streets; not protesting but celebrating.

"We're really disappointed," she said. "But we're not going to stop. We're now going to go back to the embassy every day and carry on fighting until he leaves."

It was a day of mixed emotions for the group, who left jubilant scenes of dancing and singing outside London's Egyptian Embassy, only to have their hopes crushed while watching the much-anticipated speech.

Businesswoman Azza Zaki, 45, left Egypt two years ago and has been protesting outside the embassy ever since protesters flocked to Cairo's Tahrir Square 17 days ago.

She told CNN she felt it was her moral obligation to protest: "I've been living all these years rejecting what's been going on and what's happening to my people. Although I wasn't affected, what I saw back home was very inhuman, yet I was a coward and didn't speak out."

She continued: "These heroes in Tahrir Square, they gave us back our humanity and gave us back our pride to go out and say no more."

Sara Ibrahim, a 28-year-old mother of two, took her three-year-old and one-month old sons to Thursday's protests in London, hoping they would witness history.

"It means a lot to us," Ibrahim said. "Even if I take a picture (of my son) and show him when he's older, he can see he was part of history, creating history. He will probably be taught about the Egyptian revolution, like people talk about the French Revolution, at school or college."

Although these ex-patriot Egyptians are adamant Mubarak must go, most admit this is just the beginning of a difficult transition period for their country.

"It's time for the young, the educated people to step up," said 34-year-old college lecturer Khairy Eteiwy.

"The west should not worry about Egypt or about the Muslim Brotherhood. They have a place there, but they are not the majority by any means. The majority of the protesters and the Egyptian people ... they like a moderate kind of life and they like to follow democracy."

But as these Egyptians sipped their mint teas and began to digest the news that the protests back home had failed to dislodge their president, talk turned to Friday's gathering that many of them had hoped just minutes earlier would be a celebration.