Dozens of Charlotte area residents with ties to Egypt will hold a candlelight vigil tonight (Saturday, Jan. 29) as a sign of solidarity with the people of Egypt. They will meet at 6:30 in Marshall Park in Uptown.
For more information, contact (704)258-0304.
Trouble in Egypt stirs Charlotteans
By Franco Ordoñez email@example.com
Posted: Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011
Charlotte area Egyptians are watching the protests raging in Cairo and across Egypt with a mix of concern and anticipation.
Mona Baset of Charlotte immediately worried about her cousins' safety when she learned police were lobbing tear gas and using water cannons against protesters in her relatives' neighborhood near the 6 October Bridge in Cairo. She checked her cousin's Facebook page and found he had been posting messages supporting the protests.
"I thought that was very brave of my cousin to post that," she said. "People are concerned, but there is a sense of hope that there is going to be some change. I really think that people there have been living under such an oppressive government."
Baset, whose parents moved to the United States after they were married in 1960s, said she was glad to find out her many aunts, uncles and cousins were safe before the government cut off most of the country's Internet and cell phone service.
The unrest in Egypt has come after weeks of turmoil across the Arab world that has already toppled the authoritarian president in Tunisia.
The protesters in Egypt are seeking a similar result, hoping to overthrow their President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981.
Mohammed el-Nawawy, an associate professor of communication at Queens University of Charlotte who is from Egypt, called it an "historic moment."
El-Nawawy, who has studied the role of the media and Internet in the Arab world, described the protesters as mostly educated, middle-class youth who have used social media sites and the web to cut through restrictions on freedom of expression and political activism.
He said the government's effort to quash the movement by shutting down the Internet is too late.
"This is the point of no return," he told the Observer Friday. "These are young people who are insisting on making things happen now. Now the regime is forced to take action."
Baset's parents moved to Texas in 1969 to attend grad school, but also for many of the same reasons that the people today are protesting.
"It was a similar situation where it was just so oppressive," she said. "They felt that if they stayed there they didn't think they'd have the opportunities. They decided to leave and never looked back."
Franco Ordoñez writes about immigration (and Haiti) for the Charlotte Observer. This Land covers the latest news and ideas about one of the country’s most perplexing issues of our day. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.