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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Gainesville residents worry about family, events in Egypt


Muhammad Rushdi didn't immediately hear from his 26-year-old brother Mahmoud, but he knew his brother had been planning on protesting in Cairo.

His parents had already been planning on going to Saudi Arabia just a few days before the protest, but his mom wanted to stay to make sure that Mahmoud would be alright.

Rushdi and other members of UF's Egyptian Students Association wanted to plan something to raise awareness about what's going on in Egypt, but first they wanted to hear from their own family members to make sure they were OK.

After two days, Mahmoud called Rushdi on a landline. Then the government lifted its ban on the Internet last Wednesday.

Saturday, Rushdi and about 40 other people stood on the grassy lot near the intersection 13th Street and University Avenue, holding signs of protest.

"Egyptians want Mubarak out - and his regime," Rushdi's sign read.

During the protest, Rushdi and the others urged drivers to honk in support of the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

The purpose of the event and the other events around America, Rushdi said, was to keep the pressure on the U.S. government to oppose the Egyptian president and to show Americans that if Egypt became a democracy it wouldn't turn against America.

Rushdi, a 31-year-old software engineer, was born in America while his father was studying here. He went back to Egypt, where he lived until 2005 when he moved here with his wife. He's now pursuing a doctorate in computer science and engineering.

Rushdi and other members of the Egyptian students club have been meeting daily at the Islamic Community Center of Gainesville since the protests broke out.

After his three-hour protest in Gainesville ended, Rushdi received a call from another one of his brothers.

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Rushdi answered the phone with a voice that had grown hoarse from shouting for three hours.

His brother's own protest was about to start. He called Rushdi to let him know.

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