The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

44° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook Community Reacts to Egyptian Conflict

While Egypt may be more than 5,000 miles away, the events unfolding have not only transfixed the news airwaves, but also Stony Brook students,  especially those with family and friends still living in the country.

“I’m barely sleeping because I’m constantly watching CNN,” said Mohamed Sayed-Ahmed, a senior psychology major and political science minor. Some of Sayed-Ahmed’s family members are witnessing the chaos in Egypt for themselves, and the events have him worried here in the United States.

However, while the potential danger to his loved ones has him worried, Sayed-Ahmed is clear that he supports his people’s cause against President Hosni Mubarak.

“I understand why it’s happening,” he said. “It’s a good thing for our people. Mubarak’s been in for 30 years; he’s done nothing for the country.”

“I was shocked,” he said when asked about his initial reaction to the protests. “I just didn’t know how to take that in. It was tough seeing my country go through that. Everything just happened so fast after Tunisia.”

[vsw id=”Rixy7VO_O-w” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

The overall situation in the Middle East has inflamed greatly since one young Tunisian man set himself on fire when he couldn’t get a license to sell fruit. The protests in Egypt, which began on Jan. 25, were said to have been inspired by the ousting of Tunisian former dictator Ben Ali.

Egypt, with a population of approximately 80 million, is the largest of the Arab countries. It is also one of the few nations in the Arab League, which has diplomatic relations with Israel, giving Egypt a crucial role in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Israeli government has watched the developments in Egypt without offering much input.

Despite his relations with the United States, Israel and other nations, Mubarak has a dismal human rights record and high levels of unemployment leave millions of young Egyptian adults to scrape for a living or to flee to another country.

“I think that the regimes have stayed longer than they should,” said Sr. Sanaa Nadim, Chaplin for the Islamic Society of North America at Stony Brook. “People are changing. The populations are young. They’re more connected with the rest of the world. You have so many fantastic minds in the country who are ready.”

The connection with the outside world has been a prominent theme of the scene in Egypt. The fact that the Egyptian government felt the need to shut down the Internet shows how technology can and is being used to get news out to the public. Many Egyptians have resorted to texting to communicate within and outside of the country.

Just because the Internet was shut down within Egypt doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been used to aid its people’s cause. Many organizations have grown online, some of which promote marches in capitals around the world. Demonstrators in Washington, London, etc. have demanded that President Mubarak give in to the demands of his people and surrender power.

As for the ever-present Israeli issue, even though the government remains quiet, many Jews support the Egyptian’s cause.

“I think that the Israeli government should assure the Egyptian people that it supports their quest for a fair and democratic society and stands as a neighbor and ally ready to assist them in any way they can,” said Rabbi Joseph Topeck, Chaplin for the Hillel foundation of Jewish Life at Stony Brook.

According to Sayed-Ahmed, the United States should have no fear that an Egypt not governed by Mubarak would attack Israel.

“If we were going to do that, we would’ve done it a long time ago,” he claimed.

The Egyptian cause has captured the hearts of many people around the world. For the first time since 1989 when Eastern Europe rose up against Soviet power, a great number of people are simultaneously banging on the door that leads into a free society.

“I’d like to see a democratic state,” Nadim said on the future in Egypt. “They are amazing people. They are good-hearted. They have an amazing history. There is so much for Egypt to offer.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (0)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *