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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora