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.



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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs