Ohio State reacts to unrest in Egypt
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 23:02
Egypt has exploded into new unrest two years after its revolution began. Opposition groups complain there is a lack of change and blame the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic party currently in power.
Alexander Thompson, an associate professor of political science, said the conflict affects the average American because Egypt’s importance in the Middle East cannot be overemphasized.
“Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world,” he said. “There’s no more important Arab country or Muslim country in the Middle East. Egypt has historically served as a mediator.”
Omar Yasser Gowayed, a third-year in materials science engineering from Egypt, said he is not content with the way Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Brotherhood have handled their newfound power after the Arab Spring, a democratic uprising led by mostly young people. He said he doesn’t “necessarily trust the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Ehab Ammar, a graduate student in biochemistry and vice president of the Egyptian Students Association, said he agreed that there were problems. But as a supporter of Morsi, he said the opposition isn’t handling their objections appropriately.
“The people who do not support (Morsi) took the violent way of showing that they are not comfortable,” he said. “This is in general.”
Protests in Eqypt have continued, which, according to The New York Times, has led to the death of 50 people in the last two weeks.
Gowayed visited Egypt during winter break and said he participated in protests while he was there.
“It’s basically a storm,” he said. “The people are already angry because there isn’t any inclusion.”
Some protestors feel like the democratic ideals that were put forth when establishing the new government are being carried out under Morsi.
Opposition groups withdrew themselves from writing the constitution in late 2012, and Gowayed blamed the Brotherhood for that.
“They’re trying to manage everything on their own and … they’re screwing up left and right,” he said, speaking of Brotherhood politicians.
Ammar said he disagreed and emphasized that Morsi was democratically elected.
“The average student, in my opinion, at OSU should know that Egypt had a revolution, and after this revolution we were able to go ahead and have free, democratic elections,” he said. “We have an elected president.”
Both Gowayed and Ammar said there were very daunting problems facing Egypt after the election, like widespread poverty and lack of education. Those living outside Egypt’s capital Cairo feel like they have been sidelined, Gowayed said.
“Other cities feel marginalized, because everyone feels like everything is going to Cairo,” he said.
There is too much of a focus on politics, Gowayed said, and not enough on solving the issues that plague Egypt.
“We have people coming out of public schools illiterate, we have people who are starving, and these are all problems from the (former Egyptian leader Muhammad Hosni El Sayed) Mubarak era that need to be fixed,” Gowayed said. “We need to stop focusing on political power and who’s going to rule politically.”
Mubarak was ousted from his office about two years ago.
Ammar said people in the Egyptian Students Association disagree on what is best for Egypt.
“When I speak politically, I represent myself,” he said. “We are not united in terms of … whom we are supporting now. Lots of people voted against the current president. Some supported him.”
Overall, Ammar said, it is important to understand that the American government should not try to interfere too much in Egypt’s internal affairs. That would, he said, benefit “both sides.”
“I hope that the Americans understand that a strong Egypt, a peaceful Egypt would be better,” he said. “A strong, democratic Egypt, regardless of the fact that the American government likes it or dislikes it, is better and could be a strong ally … compared to a regime like Mubarak’s, because the situation is different. Now the people have the upper hand.”