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

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

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.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs