News / Europe

Egyptian Expats in Spain Anxiously Watch News From Back Home

A demonstrators holds a placard during a demonstration against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the Sant Jaume square in Barcelona, Spain, January 29, 2011. The placard reads: "Free Egypt".
A demonstrators holds a placard during a demonstration against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the Sant Jaume square in Barcelona, Spain, January 29, 2011. The placard reads: "Free Egypt".
Lauren Frayer

In the past 30 years, many Egyptians have left their native country, seeking jobs and a better life outside Egypt.  Now, the country's diaspora is watching footage of unrest in the streets of Cairo, wondering what it means for their future and whether they will ever return home.  

That might sound like Cairo, but listen carefully: the anti-Mubarak chants are in Spanish and this is Madrid.  Egyptians who live here in Spain have gathered at their home country's embassy to protest in the same way their relatives are doing back home.

For Egyptians abroad, the past week's events have been tough to watch.  Some want to be back in Cairo now, joining the protests.  Basel Ramsis just bought a plane ticket.

"It's my country and my people. I think any Egyptian person who has a relationship, a real relationship, with his people, you feel very bad if you're outside.  For that [reason], I'm going to Cairo," said Ramsis.

Most Egyptians here say they are excited about the prospect of a new government back home.  Many of them left Egypt because of lack of opportunities - jobs or money to go to university - under Mr. Mubarak's rule.

"I've been in Spain for 10 months now.  I'm doing my post-grad in a Spanish school here.   I'm doing my MBA.   I'm 31 years old and have been living in Egypt all my life," said Hussein Abdel-Karim.

He describes how he feels, watching television footage of his countrymen marching. "I'm so, so happy. This is the time and the only chance, that Egyptian people might restore their heroic actions and kindness. They've been repressed for 30 years now," he said.

But despite how happy he is, Abdel-Karim says it is hard for him to imagine - with Egypt changing so much - that he could go back and have a future there.

"You say, 'what if you finish your MBA here, would you like to go back to Cairo, or would you have more chances somewhere else?'  I mean, sometimes some education you need is somewhere else that's not available here.  You just seek it.  But then you go back to where you come from to put this education and to help in the rise of your nation.  But no, a lot of amazing and lovely Nobel prize-winning Egyptians are just outside of Egypt.  They are not accepted," he said.

Noureddin Essawi came to Spain from Cairo, six years ago.  He compares his life here - a fiancee, good job, free health care - to that of one of his cousins back home, who cannot afford any of those things.

"He doesn't have any kind of future, doesn't have a home, doesn't have nothing, nothing.  Here in this country, for example, I found a good chance for work.  Next month, I can get married.  I rent my own flat, found my own work.  I have medicine.  I can find everything I need here, for a normal person," he said.

Maha Azzam, a Middle East scholar at London's Chatham House think tank and an Egyptian expat, describes the plight of her countrymen abroad.

"Many of them have had to leave because they needed more opportunity," she said. "Some have left and are privileged.  But, whatever the case, I think they wanted to see an end to this authoritarian regime.  And, it's a very important moment for them, as it is for Egyptians in Egypt."

Azzam says, no matter how long someone has lived abroad, they never lose that link to their home country.

"The bond is very strong, and I think it opens the door for many Egyptians to return, if not immediately, then at the time when the system opens up politically," she said.

Many Egyptian expats hope that could be quite soon.






You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid