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:
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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs