News / Middle East

Chicago Activist Documents Egyptian Turmoil Online

Many protesters are documenting their experiences through online blog, editorials, interviews and social media.
Many protesters are documenting their experiences through online blog, editorials, interviews and social media.

Multimedia

Audio

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's speech on Thursday disappointed many protestors in Egypt. Many demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square eagerly awaited what they thought would be Mr. Mubarak's resignation.


Instead, Egyptian-born Ahmed Rehab says, it was a disappointment.

"The Army and others gave the people hope that this was the date that it would all end.  And this kind of set expectations high,” Rehab said. “Before that announcement, people weren’t exactly sure that anything would happen today.  But now that the expectations were raised, the disappointment is huge.  Tahrir Square right now is erupting like I’ve never seen it erupting before, with people chanting for his [Mr. Mubarak's] immediate departure."

Rehab is the Executive Director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, a Muslim advocacy group based in the United States.

On January 22, Rehab flew to Egypt.  Since then, he has witnessed the unprecedented protests in his homeland.

"I had close shaves during the protests, especially on January 28th, when the marches were against the police.  Even after that, there are still a lot of questions about my own safety and security,” he recalled. “But you know, this is a cause.  Democracy is a cause; freedom is a cause -- and one has to take risks that come with it."

Rehab is documenting his experiences through an online blog, editorials in different publications and interviews with the media.  Thousands of people have contacted him through social media and have visited his Internet website.

Brian Edwards is Co-chairman of the Middle East and African Studies Working Group at Northwestern University near Chicago. Through online media such as Rehab’s website, Edwards has been able to monitor the situation in Egypt.  He says there is concern about how events will unfold in the wake of Mr. Mubarak’s speech.

"The reaction has been wonderful, overwhelming," Rehab commented online.  "A lot of commenters.  It’s been retweeted and reposted on Facebook.  And it’s important for me to get my voice out, which I hope represents the voice of the people that I talk to and the facts on the ground that I see myself."

"This has caught the imagination of Americans who had no real knowledge of the Middle East or of Egypt before," noted Edwards.  "All of a sudden, regular Americans [are] following this online in great numbers.  People have really stuck their necks out here, and been very public about it -- whether it’s on TV or online or editorials.  And I think they’ve kind of put a lot of chips on the table.  No one is very optimistic about a kind of peaceful resolution of things, as the protestors seem to have been protesting in peace…  The authorities aren’t giving up that easily."

As he prepared to venture back into the heart of Egypt's protests in Tahrir Square, Rehab said the demand of the demonstrators is simple.

"Democracy is what the people want.  Mubarak is stalling.  The United States has its own interests.  It’s a very difficult situation," he admitted.

Rehab says he believes Mr. Mubarak’s decision not to resign has the potential to bring record numbers of protestors out into the streets across Egypt.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs