Egyptian unrest hits close to home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Egyptian unrest hits close to home

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- A UNI professor and native Egyptian worries about his family back at home.

"I've been watching either the Egyptian National TV station or Al Jazeera," Dr. Mohammed Fahmy said, of the Arabic channels he and his family have been watching all Saturday afternoon for updates on the homeland they visited just last April.

"You could see it in many people's eyes. People have just about gotten fed up with what was happening," Fahmy said, a professor of industrial technology at UNI.

He said young people in Egypt are having trouble finding jobs and high inflation makes it hard for many people to make ends meet.

"I suspected that they have had enough," he said, of his last trip to Egypt. "I thought, 'something's going to have to happen, because these people cannot take it anymore.'"

He said what started several days earlier as a peaceful demonstration by people frustrated with their government and president, turned into riots, with violence and looting. That worries the Fahmys.

"Our family is still all there," he said. They're mostly in Cairo, one of the hotbeds of conflict.

"We called them yesterday, actually, and they've abided with the curfew, and they were staying home, but they were saying things are chaotic in the streets, and they were a little bit scared because they don't know what's going to happen," Fahmy said.

"I'm just praying for them, that they will stay safe and nobody will attack them," his wife Bahia said.

Their youngest daughter, Nirmeen, who is a student at Iowa State University studying both journalism and international studies, came to visit her parents this weekend.

"She made us cookies at home before she came," Bahia Fahmy said.

"It's a tough time," Nirmeen Fahmy said.

That tough time is made a little tougher by Egypt's lack of Internet, as of late this week, which was a way of keeping in touch with family overseas.

"It's kinda scary," Nirmeen Fahmy said. "You know, normally, I rely on that, I rely on Skype or other Internet sites so I could see them and make that connection with them, and I haven't had any of that this week at all."

As for the immediate future, Dr. Fahmy said, "I think we're watching and witnessing the last days in a regime that was staying in Egypt for the last 30 years, and, hopefully, the Egyptians now can start a new page with a new regime, a new government that would be more in line with their demands and their aspirations."

He said he and his family will be closely following Egyptian President Mubarek's moves over the next few days.

"Mubarek is going to find himself in a situation where he has to choose between staying in power with much more deterioration happening or bowing out and leaving," Dr. Fahmy said. "God be with all these people in Egypt, and I hope that it will go in peaceful ways and a quick solution should come up."

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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