A celebration of Egyptian culture

Festival highlights Jersey City’s diversity

Organizers of the 10th annual Egyptian Festival in Jersey City paid tribute to local public officials for their support over the years. Mayor Steven Fulop and Freeholder Anthony Romano were among those honored during the annual event on June 14.
“We’ve made a point of looking out for their interests in the community,” said Romano, whose district includes all of Hoboken and portions of Jersey City. “We are always trying to promote diversity, and this is a very prominent part of our community.”
The festival, held in front of the Journal Square train station each year, was designed to bring Egyptian culture to the general public. The event featured a variety of vendors selling everything from clothing to food. Egyptian music echoed through the concrete caverns of the station.
Nabil Youssef, co-organizer of the event, said the festival was about sharing their culture with the public at large and enlightening people about Egypt.
But more importantly, the festival brings together members of the Egyptian community to discuss issues.
Youssef is a member of the city’s zoning board, and the community has been influential in trying to get schools to teach classes relevant to children of Egyptian parents, such as the teaching of Arabic.

“Our annual festival is the meeting in which we evaluate where we are at as a community.” – Nabil Youssef
He said the Egyptian Festival is important locally because Hudson County, and in particular Jersey City, has the largest Egyptian population in New Jersey.
“Our annual festival is the meeting in which we evaluate where we are at as a community,” he said. “What are our needs and how are we going to establish those needs or goals? For example, the community is asking for years the Jersey City Pubic Schools to include the Arabic Language as a second language bilingual class to the curriculum to accommodate our 7,000 Arabic speaking students.”
Youssef said he honored Mayor Fulop because the mayor has done a lot since being elected to close the gap between majority and minority communities, reaching out and opening the dialogue to communities that have been ignored for years. In the Egyptian community, Muslim and Coptic are an example.
This festival comes after the city appointed Ramy A. Eid as the first Egyptian municipal court judge in Hudson County.
“Ramy will be a great asset to the municipal court with his experience and knowledge, but also as an Arabic speaker who has a great understanding of the Egyptian culture and community here in Jersey City,” said Mayor Fulop last fall when he made the appointment. “Our courts, our city offices, our police department – all aspects of city government – should reflect the community they serve and we are committed to making appointments that reflect the great diversity of our city.”

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group