Students, faculty express mixed views on the Egyptian crisis

The current state of affairs in Egypt has managed to catch the attention of the world and has created a change in the perception of several individuals toward Egypt and the Middle East. What had started as a spark has spread quite rapidly across the country, leading to the breakout of several protests among the people of Egypt, irrespective of their race, gender, age and faith.
Initially having stemmed from the overthrow of Tunisia’s president, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak faced unprecedented reactions from the people of Egypt and the rest of the world, effectively ending, or rather harshly damaging, his three-decade long term in office as president.
At Tech, the news has found several students, faculty and staff in shock and awe. People with family and friends in Egypt have faced a huge impact; feelings of both fear for their brethren mixed with relief and civil righteousness at the fact that Egypt has been able to overthrow the long and tiresome government. There have been a variety of responses regarding the crisis and the role of the US in this affair.
“Contrary to popular belief, there is not a lot the United States can do given its strategic interests in the region which are closely linked to Egypt; its recent unsuccessful experiences of promoting democracy and reform, especially in Egypt, and the fact that the current regime, whose primary interest is survival, is well aware of factors that constrain the US from fully siding with the protesters,” said Lawrence Rubin, an INTA professor, who has lived and researched in Egypt and has friends and colleagues there.
“Egyptians have been living in very difficult conditions long before this crisis. The current [one] has given many people hope for change, but others have suffered even more,” Rubin said.
Students have gone on to state the importance of democracy and how its need is fundamental to the people of Egypt. Many believe that it the key to ending the crisis on a good note.
“The best way to ensure a peaceful transition is a democratic process so that all the voices are heard. If people are ignored in the formation of a new government then the revolution will have been pointless,” said Gazi Rashid, a second-year BMED major.
“As our founding fathers stated, the power of the government lies in the hands of the people. In my opinion the citizens of Egypt have the right to rise up and overthrow their government if they feel they are being treated unjustly,” said Matthew S. Callicott, a first-year CHBE major.
Experts predicted the possible occurrence of such an event but neither when nor what was obvious at all. For most citizens, the mere premise of a crisis took them by surprise.
“It is scary to see these things happen, but on the other hand it’s interesting to see how the people stood up and have caused a scene and were not silenced because of the happenings,” said Ariel Wheelock, a second-year AE major.
On the whole, people across campus have had strong responses regarding the Egyptian government and feel that a change is in order, both in representation and in the overall structure.
“I think the demands the U.S have given to allow freedom of assembly, to end the emergency law, and begin trying to find a solution needs to be done. It shocks me that he has been president for 30 years; it is no surprise people are unhappy. The Egyptian people are taking back control of their lives and freedom. They want a change, and I hope they get it,” said Katy Hammersmith, a third-year BMED major.
Several people who have ties with the country have shown grievances and are looking forward to a change for the better.
Many also attended a recent rally held in Atlanta.
“The president should step down, the whole government should be changed, the parliament should be dissolved and new clean elections should be set up…The revolution is fair and long due. What’s not fair is the way the government is treating the young. They are belittling them,” said Rajaa Aquil, a IAML professor, who is originally from Egypt.
“The president and his cabinet are using scary discourse and tactics to spread the fear monger that the youth in Tahrir are Islamists and fanatics that want to spread chaos and war in the region and accordingly affect US’s security. All these are lies,” Aquil said.
Aquil is currently setting up a video chat between protesters in Tahrir and students at Tech.
“I want the young people [at Tech], Georgia and the US to know the real truth about the demonstrators and their rightful demands,” Aquil said.
“The first and biggest step is for Mubarak to step down immediately…Understandingly, some people in Egypt have criticized the protesters because they don’t want to be involved in politics and are suffering from the crisis. But these people are perhaps failing to see what good this could do to the country in the future,” said Ahmed Ahmed, a fourth-year MGT major, who has recently partaken in two local protests about the situation.
It was important to some protestors that Egypt’s revolt was not secluded to any one part of the community but instead received participation from all members of society irrespective of internal barriers.
“I’m glad that the revolution is more secular than religious. The current chaos must lead to a country that is plural, less corrupt and led by pragmatists. If the ultimate outcome of all this is not positive, then all the effort would have been wasted,” said Ahsan Dharani, a fifth-year MGT major.
“The [Tahrir] square contains Christian young women and men. Christians form human shields to protect Muslims while praying and Muslims form human shields protecting Christians while praying. I have images proving that,” Aquil said.
There is hope amongst people that the current crises in Egypt come to a close soon yielding positive results and the institution of the will of the people.
Only time will tell if this will be the eventual result of the protests.

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