Israeli Arabs celebrate Mubarak's ouster - AP - Feb 11, 2011
Israeli Arabs celebrating Mubarak's departure in Nazareth, Israel, on February 11, 2011. Photo by AP
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Israeli Arabs celebrated the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's rule with fireworks, gunshots fired in the air, sweets and shows of solidarity.

Over the past two weeks, Israeli Arabs were riveted by events in Egypt, which shoved all other issues aside. Neither social problems nor the rising cost of living were able to distract them from their fixation on Egypt.

On Friday evening, after Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak's departure, the sound of gunshots being fired in the air and the sight of fireworks flashing could be heard and seen in Arab towns and villages across the country, in a spontaneous grassroots response. Drivers honked their horns, and local residents could be seen making the rounds carrying trays full of sweets.

On Saturday, in Nazareth, hundreds of Balad party members staged a rally in support of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Balad activists explained that the rally had been planned early last week, before Mubarak's resignation was announced, but the announcement Friday evening turned the gathering into a celebration.

Participants called on the people of Egypt and Tunisia to uphold human rights and interests in the Arab world and emphasized that the uprisings strengthen Palestinian demands for rights and self-determination.

Hadash party members also held solidarity rallies in locations up north. In a statement issued Saturday, Hadash defined the Egyptian uprising as an historical moment for the Egyptian people, which stood up against a dictatorship and against absolute dependence on the West and the United States. "The Egyptian people has made its statement, and this is a call to all Arab nations to arise, in the name of democracy and freedom," the statement said.

The Ta'al party also released a statement congratulating the Egyptians on the success of their popular revolt and on the triumph of social justice, equality and freedom in their country. "Let us hope that these values will conquer regimes in our region which [currently] oppress their citizens," the statement said.