Events in Egypt hit close to home

For most Butler University students, the issues in Egypt are far away. But for one student, the events in Egypt strike close to her heart.

On Jan. 25, Sandra Guirguis said she entered her First Year Seminar classroom 30 minutes late with a petrified look on her face.

That was the day 20,000 protesters ran out into the streets of Cairo to show their rage against the government, CNN reported. Three were reported dead and 49 others wounded in the first day of the protests, according to the official Middle East News Agency.

Guirguis, a freshman double major in communication science disorders and Spanish, has 32 relatives in Egypt that are experiencing the protests and chaos firsthand.

“America is my country, but so is Egypt,” Guirguis said.

She last visited Egypt in June of 2010 and found it to be a very different place then it is now. She describes the people of Egypt as friendly, hospitable and safe.

“Egypt was very safe and there was no tension,” Guirguis said.

Egyptians began to protest in the wake of President Hosni Mubarak’s harsh policies and grip on power alongside economic woes. The protests soon became violent.

“I’m worried all the time about my family,” Guirguis said. “There’s always something dangerous going on near them when I talk to them.”

The Egyptian police instituted a 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew. She said it makes getting food difficult because of the time constraints.

“From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. people are going crazy in the streets trying to get food,” Guirguis said. “On top of all this, there always has to be someone guarding the house and cars from looters.”

When the protests in Cairo escalated, Mubarak called on police forces from other areas in Egypt to come to Cairo.

“When that happened, my relatives had to start guarding their homes with guns, swords and knives in hopes of protecting their family and property from thieves and rapists.”

Protesters have now started burning cars and buildings, but Guirguis said they weren’t always that way.

“The protests were actually peaceful until the police and armed forces got involved,” Guirguis said. “They used bombs, tear gas and guns, forcing my family to stay inside their homes for safety.”

The Egyptian government also temporarily shutting down Internet and cell phones.

Guirguis said these restrictions only intensified anger towards the government.

While Guirguis said that Mubarak is being rightly critcized, his time as president had some positive outcomes. She said that he brought a sense of stability to the country, and economic investment.

Guirguis said that American media has done a poor job of portraying the situation and his presidency ojectively.

“The news is one-sided, and they are only showing the people who want him out immediately,” she said. “There are many people who want him to finish out his term through September.”

Like the people of Egypt, Guirguis said her family members do not all agree either.

She said her father believes Mubarak’s immediate resignation would cause the protests to cease, but her mother believes he should finish out his term to maintain the stability of the country.

“My family is divided as to what they think should happen, and I can see it both ways,” Guirguis said.

For Guirguis, the distance from her family and country  has caused her stress.

“I’m worried all the time about my family,” she said.  “I just want what is best for them.”[nggallery id=10]