Reflections on Cairo
University of North Dakota
Egyptian native at UND sheds an insider look at the political uprising.
Political unrest is a very real occurrence in our world, regardless of the size, location, population, or even governmental structure of a country. In the news as of late, a large faction of Egypt citizens have protested their government in favor of democracy. The demonstrations have been broadcast on every major news outlet for two weeks, now, covering every angle from how the government is responding to the protests, to American expats looking to return home.
While figuratively and literally Egypt can seem like it’s on the other side of the world, there are some on our campus that bring us a little closer together.
Dr. Hesham El-Rewini, Egyptian native and Dean of the School of Engineering and Mines, emigrated to the U.S. 26 years ago.
“The protestors represent all walks of life in Egypt including students, professionals, intellectuals, working class, and even filmmakers and movie stars,” said Dr. El-Rewini. “The protestors represent a wide spectrum of ideologies, faith traditions, and economic and social backgrounds. The protestors are demanding replacing the entire regime and the resignation of the president, who has been in power for the last 30 years. Today is day 14 of the revolution and the president is refusing to resign. I am hoping that he would listen to the people and relinquish power as soon as possible so that the Egyptian people can roll up their sleeves and begin building a new democratic Egypt.”
El-Rewini’s mother, two sisters and countless friends live in Egypt and are witnessing the historic revolution first-hand. Since the government shut down access to the internet, text messaging and eventually mobile phones, contact with his friends and family was limited. With access now granted again, he says, “They are very proud of those courageous men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of the entire Egyptian people and for a better future for their children. The people I talked to are very supportive of the revolution and they hope it will eventually prevail.”
While these protests are relatively localized in terms of directly affecting the Egyptian government, the overall impact of this is as far reaching as can be. Egyptian natives around the globe, some who live right here in Grand Forks, feel the effects and help the rest of us appreciate this truly powerful moment in time. “I was so impressed with the peacefulness of the demonstrations and the good nature of those who participated,” said El-Rewini. “Even when the security forces and the pro-government thugs attacked the protestors, they have used maximum restraint to maintain the peacefulness of the protest while defending themselves.” He finished by calling on President Obama and our administration to be on the right side of history and to support the legitimate aspiration of the Egyptian people strongly and explicitly.
Hvidsten, Amanda, "Reflections on Cairo" (2011). UND News Archive. 16.