Toledoans with ties to Egypt follow uprisingWritten by Aya Khalil | | email@example.com
Young Egyptian Americans in Toledo are concerned about their families in Egypt.
Anti-government protests in Egypt have been ongoing since Jan. 25. Protesters have called for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 29 years. Egyptians continue to protest corruption, unemployment and poverty. Within the country of 80 million people, almost half of the population lives on $2 a day.
Dina Kassem, a University of Toledo graduate, has been teaching in Egypt for almost one year. She said the Internet in Egypt was shut down by the government on Jan. 27 and was restored Feb. 2.
Curfews have been set across most districts in Egypt.
“I’ve been home for six days,” she said. “I was going to go crazy. What has happened in the past week is unforgivable in my opinion, because it’s getting harder by the minute. People are dying. Banks, stores and everything is closed. Food supplies are short and there’s no work.”
Although Mubarak announced on Feb. 1 that he will not run in the presidential elections in September, many Egyptians are unsatisfied.
“The demand for the collapse of the Egyptian regime is synonymous with the demand for basic human rights and the right to build and secure the future for all forms,” said Suad Hani, a UT graduate student.
“If Mubarak’s stay is prolonged, the Egyptian people may need humanitarian aid in the form of food and medical supplies from the international community in coming weeks.”
Other Egyptians in Toledo are worried about their families in Egypt. The government had shut down land lines and cellular phones several times during the past week.
Maha Berti Guirguis’s immediate family lives in Cairo.
“Trying to contact my family has been gradually becoming more reliable. On Friday, even land lines were off at some point which was extremely terrifying. But since Saturday I have been able to call them every day on their land line. They tell me not to worry but they don’t sound well,” said Guirguis, a senior at UT.
Many communities in Egypt have been forming neighborhood watches.
“This collaboration shows the kinship between all Egyptians and how they are willing to work together to protect their country. This simply authenticates the spirit of this revolution,” Guirguis said.
Many Egyptian Americans in Toledo are raising awareness through social networking and organizing protests.
Ahmed Hassabelnaby, a sophomore at UT, has been organizing solidarity protests in Toledo.
“Primarily using YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook and communicating with family and friends in Egypt via phone lines, many of us are doing our best to relay information from inside of Egypt to the rest of the world despite the media blackout that has been imposed by the regime,” he said.
UT freshman Lina Elsamaloty is brainstorming ideas.
“I hope to start a canned food drive to help the people in Egypt … making them aware of what is going on as well as giving them a chance to stretch a helping hand to such an unprecedented revolution,” Elsamaloty said. “We are all working on setting up a committee to head fundraising events as well as a possible mission trip to Egypt to help the people.”
At least 200 people have been killed in the past week and thousands injured in clashes between police and protesters. There have also been reports of clashes between pro Mubarak groups and anti-Mubarak groups.
“Thugs are being paid and hired by Mubarak’s regime to kill innocent peaceful protesters to make it look like the people are out of control,” said Sharin Afifi, another Egyptian student at UT.
Egyptians are staying positive.
“I can’t stress enough how proud I am of my people. It’s game over for Mubarak, because the people aren’t going to be fooled any longer. I am mostly proud of our youth, [they] are leading this revolution,” Afifi said. “They are impassioned to see a New Egypt, an improved and better Egypt for their future. It’s not just Toledo either, you can count on all Egyptians worldwide, young and old, standing up hand in hand with the people in Egypt.”
Toledo native Kassem agrees.
“We must keep fighting, for those who are no longer with us. I was astonished when I was saw protests in other countries and in the states,” Kassem said. “It’s amazing and we truly appreciate their support and ask that they continue to back us against a tyrant and for an establishment of a true democratic country.”