Monday, January 31, 2011
Egyptians in San Diego are cautiously optimistic that growing protests in their homeland might be the first step toward democracy.
Despite decades of poverty and corruption, many local Egyptians never thought they would see such huge demonstrations.
During Tareq Purmul’s last visit to Egypt one year ago, he said he saw what was once a great civilization in ruins. Poverty has forced families to live in graveyards and taxi cab drivers fear passengers are government informants.
UCSD graduate Amr Shabaik just returned from a visit with family in Egypt this month. He says people there are few job opportunities and graft is rampant.
“Living there is just tough,” Shabaik said. “There’s corruption everywhere. You have to bribe police officers to get to where you need to go and for what you need to get done I think this is just something people hoped would happen but I don’ tthink people ever saw or ever thought that they would see this day.”
Shabaik said he believes the protests have reached a point of no return and that the U.S. should support democracy in Egypt.
San Diego resident Asser Bassyouni said he believes Egyptians won’t give up until they get to elect their own government. He said the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood could fill the power vacuum.
“There’s people who are in fear of them and there’s lots of people who support them,” Bassyouni said. “Mainly for their social and health benefits. They are a popular group because they provide things that the government doesn’t provide itself.”
The brothers say many Egyptians in San Diego are worried that demonstrations could turn violent and the country could erupt into civil war.