Hesham Elmished had tears in his eyes Friday morning as he watched streaming video of the celebrations in Egypt on a computer in his South Norwalk store.

Elmished, an Egyptian who runs And Company on Washington Street, has been watching the news from home anxiously for the last two weeks and says the departure of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday was one of the best days of his life.

“It’s a very beautiful time — the most beautiful time I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “It’s like when your children are born. You never forget.”

Mubarak left power Friday morning after 30 years as president and more than two weeks of largely peaceful protests across one of the most influential countries in the Middle East. Power was turned over to the military Friday morning. 

Elmished, 52, was raised in Egypt and came to Norwalk in 1979. In 1996, he went back to Egypt with his family, returning to Norwalk for summers and Christmas. In 2008, they came back to Norwalk "for good."

Elmished says his generation could have done much more to bring democracy to Egypt. “The Internet generation did a better job than our generation. We did not stand up to the dictator,” he said. "Egypt will never go back now — the fear has been defeated.”

Majda Abajlal, a Moroccan who works at And Company, says Mubarak’s departure should bring change across the Arab world.

“You can see dictators all over the Arab world. This is a victory for the people — I think we will see something like this in other Arab countries,” she said.

Mubarak’s defeat is a victory for the entire world, Elmished says. “It is not for Egypt only to celebrate — it is for the whole world. People achieved freedom in a peaceful way.”

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