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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Egyptian professor talks of home


Shahira Fahmy, associate professor of journalism, was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and lived in Cairo for nearly 20 years. The Daily Wildcat talked with Fahmy to discuss the recent political uprising in Egypt and her struggle to communicate with family members in the country.

Daily Wildcat: Do you still have family in Cairo?

Fahmy: Yeah, I still have lots of family. My parents are there. They’re U.S. citizens, but they’re there. It was a bit hard because last week I couldn’t reach them. They had no Internet. I couldn’t call them because they had no cell phone access and so it was kind of scary in a way.

Have you been able to reach your family since then?

They’ve actually been calling me, but I have not been able to call them. Actually, today, my mom emailed me, so she has Internet access. That was something new. I know that the day before, they had a number you could call and have a voicemail tweet because people were not able to get on Facebook or tweet or any of those social networks. So that was interesting, they kind of developed that for Egypt.

What kinds of things have you been hearing from your family?

One of the things is when it first started, they were in Alexandria, which is a Mediterranean city on the beach, and they were kind of in a gated compound, so they felt safe. Later, they said that people tried to break the gates, so they were kind of scared. Then they went to Cairo, which is two and a half hours away, but it took them six hours because they had to stop. But they were thrilled when they got home. Because just, like, they say in the media, there are young people that are acting like the police. Whatever weapons they can get, of course they don’t have guns there, but whatever they can get they use to protect the neighborhood. And then of course, they stocked up on food and things like that. I’ve heard from my friends there that a lot of them are happy about the revolution but they’re very unhappy about the violence.

What was your reaction considering you have such close ties there?

First, of course I was really worried. But I also felt like this revolution was sort of overdue. I kind of expected it to happen at least a decade ago if not more. It wasn’t really surprising that it happened, it was just that it happened while I had family there. In terms of the revolution itself, it had to happen. People are really craving democracy, and the economy is really bad. There’s just a lot that the people and the Egyptian population really need but don’t get. Just consider 40 percent of the Egyptian population is under the poverty line. They live with their parents, they can’t get jobs, they can’t get married, they can’t have sex. I wasn’t surprised at all.

On Khaled Said, a symbol of the revolution:

He was beaten to death last June by two policemen because he was trying to post on the Internet police brutality on YouTube. He was taken from the Internet café and beaten to death … He really became the icon of the revolution. I think that’s something a lot of people here are not familiar with.

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