From Memphis to Cairo
Islamist, liberal and revolutionary figues lead thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 in unifying protest to criticize policies of the military government of Egypt. MCT
Suzanne Onstine stood on the rooftop of a building in Luxor, Egypt and watched men with sticks gather in protest while Ahmed Elnahas and his family watched news reports in Memphis saying that hundreds of people were being killed in the streets.
Onstine, a University of Memphis professor in Egypt, and Elnahas, an Egyptian doctoral student in Memphis, found themselves drawn into an unfolding history as a popular uprising erupted on Jan. 25, 2011.
Elnahas came to the United States to study finance at The U of M, three months before the revolution took place. Both his and his wife's family still live in Cairo and other parts of Egypt.
Onstine was researching a tomb in Luxor, roughly 450 miles from Cairo, when Egyptians took to the capital's streets in protest of the 30-year regime. Both Onstine and Elnahas said former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's reign left the population hopeless.
"Under Mubarak everything became nil — healthcare, education — everything but their bank accounts," Elnahas said. "If you had asked me before the Revolution, I would have told you nothing would change. I would have told you these young people are distracted in the Internet, technology, fashion — they are experts on Twitter, but they know nothing about life."
But Onstine points out that this same generation of tech-savvy young people in Egypt led the revolution.
"You see people here plugged into their iPods with their earbuds in. That same generation of people brought down a government just by having a voice collectively," she said.
Onstine said she has noticed a rise in the awareness of the strength of activism in her classes following the events of the Arab Spring.
What began as a 26-year-old Tunisian setting himself ablaze to protest the police confiscation of the vegetables he was selling as a street vendor cascaded into a series of pro-democracy movements throughout the Middle East.
The Egyptian Revolution did not begin here though. Many interest groups, activists and journalists have been working to gain freedoms and rights for the Egyptian people for years, Elnahas said.
Both Onstine and Elnahas, who have never met and were on separate trips, returned Jan. 15 from their first visits to Egypt since the uprising.
Much is the same as before, they said. Businesses conduct themselves as usual. People walk down the street in peace. Except in Tahrir Square, where protestors maintain their dissent of the military occupation.
Hussein Tantawi, former defense minister under Mubarak, serves as the head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. SCAF acts as the country's interim government and continues to use violence against activists and journalists.
Now, the chief concern for the majority of Egyptians is that the sacrifices they made are not going to bring about a real democracy, Onstine said.
"They feel like they have traded one bad master for another," she said.
Elnahas said these changes would take time.
"Mubarak's regime is still there," he said. "The whole system is still there. You cut off the head, but you still have the body."
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More The Daily Helmsman News Articles
Recent The Daily Helmsman News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR THE DAILY HELMSMAN NEWS
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST THE DAILY HELMSMAN NEWS
- UM becomes Center of Transportation Workforce
- Tiger football gears up for home stretch
- Students get crash course in crossing Southern tracks safely
- College students attend Christian retreat
- Abortion Amendment Q&A with Planned Parenthood CEO
- Nichols strains shoulder, expected to miss 10 days
- Sigma Phi Epsilon scares for the children of St. Jude
RECENT THE DAILY HELMSMAN CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Empowering People to Regain Their Mobility
- On-Site Workplace Health Clinics Emphasize Chiropractic Care
- 5 Important Tips for Choosing a Medicare Health Plan
- Welcome Your Holiday Guests With Inviting Lighting
- A New Prescription for Finding the Right Doctor
- Be on the Lookout for These Invasive Species
- It's Official: Women Are the Decision-Makers Even When It...
- Where the Jobs Are: Why Relocating May Be the Best Option
- Value of Education Brings Success Among Unique Student...
- Is Faith Really a Good Thing?
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- Renowned Engineer Ric Bradshaw Conducts Fujifilm-Sponsored Campus Tour on Tape Technology
- 5 DAYS ONLY! Semi Annual Consignment Sale!
- Leading Digital Strategists Transform Digital Marketing In Business and Academia
- USA NETWORK AND VERIZON CHARACTERS UNITE COLLEGE TOUR TO VISIT SEVEN CAMPUSES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, ENGAGING STUDENTS TO COMBAT DISCRIMINATION AND DATING ABUSE
- OH HONEY ARE “SINCERELY YOURS” WITH NEW EP // HONDA CIVIC TOUR