Unrest in Egypt hits home

On Friday afternoon I received an e-mail from Northeastern’s office of International Study Programs. The director notified the 23 students expected to travel on the Egypt Dialogue of Civilizations that the university is carefully monitoring the events to assess the safety there.

Not exactly the best news for the weekend. I appreciate the university’s concern for us now, rather than one week before we leave for Africa, though.

While working on homework this morning, I listened mostly to MSNBC. I also clicked to other news channels, and everyone was talking about Egypt. So far, more than 1,200 Americans were evacuated from Egypt aboard government-chartered planes. The State Department expects to fly out roughly 1,400 more individuals in the coming days. In the wake of my excitement to travel to Egypt, the country is basically shutting down.

Today’s news that Ahmed Ramadan, a Syrian journalist who reports for the independent Egyptian newspaper’s (Al-Masry Al-Youm) English-language website, was attacked by members of the public who mistook him for an Al Jazeera correspondent heightens my concerns. On Twitter this morning, Ramadan said:

“The government campaign against @ajenglish is turning the people against journalist. I was attacked in Giza square by passersby.”

Despite suffering minor injuries and ripped clothing, Ramadan said he will be “back in the street soon.” (That’s courage if I’ve ever heard it.)

There are countless news reports, blogs and Twitter updates to read about this topic. Be sure to check out The Lede, if nothing else. I could spend hours digesting the available information, then commenting on it here. But I find Ramadan’s Twitter post the most intriguing for today. I think it sums up the Egyptian morale, that, despite what they have been suffering from in the streets since last Tuesday, they aren’t going to back down. Good news for them, bad news for the 23 of us hoping to travel to their country in four months.

As of now, I am wondering why the unrest has to happen in the country at this time, and why it couldn’t have happened months or years earlier. But, as I like to say, there is a time and a place for everything. I will keep a close watch. Will the government back down? Will I be able to go to Egypt? Only time will tell…

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