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Fri August 16, 2013
Egyptian Students In Boston Troubled By Violence At Home
The escalating violence in Egypt, which has taken the lives of more than 600, feels close to some students in Greater Boston.
Mohammad Sherine Hamdy is a student at Harvard Law School. His family is back home in Alexandria, Egypt, and he's been following the events back home on social media and through conversations with his family.
His father is one of the many in Egypt who is defending his home, carrying a stick or kitchen knife as protection. But what makes this so dramatic is that Hamdy's father formerly supported the Morsi government.
"My dad a year and a half ago was one of the major supporters of Morsi. And now, he just epitomizes what you can see among a huge number of Egyptians who used to support Morsi, but due to disappointment over the last year, he’s now fed up with the disorder and the violence that’s taking place in the streets," he said.
Hamdy said a lot of the polarization - a difference of opinion over who is to blame for the violence, and who should be in power - can be seen among some Egyptians living in Boston. At this moment the polarization that is going on in Egypt is reflected on the community here.
In Boston, the fighting, of course, isn't in the streets, but online there's a Facebook group with 1000 members called Egyptians in Boston, where people are voicing their opinions on what's going on in Egypt. Mohamed Elgharib is a post-doc at Boston University and part of the Facebook group Egyptians in Boston.
"I believe the protestors, they are peaceful," he said. "They’re just practicing their basic rights of freedom of expression. They trust in democracy and they play by the rules. And they won the elections. But then they were overthrown by a coup, which is now committing a series of massacres."
But that's being challenges by other Egyptians living here. Ahmad ElHaggar came to America from Cairo eight months ago to study at Berklee College of Music.
"This is not the type of poor protestors doing a sit-in and bad security forces killing them for no reason," ElHaggar said. "If you are peaceful protestors, why does the situation have to be violent?"
"Most of the people see the group of people who’s responsible for the blood – who have the upper hand – are the Muslim Brotherhood. So there is a sense of extreme anger against the Muslim Brotherhood, not because the police and the army are angels, their not, but the violence is in their hands."
ElHaggar said he has friends who sympathize with the Muslim Brotherhood, but in the past few months, they haven’t been speaking.
"I decided not to, honestly, for my mental health," he said.
It’s not clear when he and his friends, just like the factions in Egypt, will again be united.
Tan Chan contributed to this piece.
Anti-Government Protests Roil Egypt