For Texas Student, Violence in Egypt Is Close to Home

By Nancy Ramsey

Feb 3, 2011 2:54pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Reshma Kirpalani interviewed Kristy Moryan, a senior at the University of Texas and first-generation American. Moryan’s parents, who are Christian Coptic Orthodox, immigrated to the U.S. as young professionals in 1979 in search of career opportunities and religious freedom.   In the photo above, anti-government demonstrators gather in Tahrir square after a night of violence in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011. Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Photo.  ABC News on Campus University of Texas bureau chief Suyun Hong had first contacted Moryan through Facebook, and Moryan wrote that she was “saddened by how great a country I know Egypt is capable of being but has now fallen into chaos and I'm nervous for my family members who are now in the midst of what seems to be a revolution and also for the future of the minority that my religious background occupies in Egypt.” In recent years, Kristy Moryan and her family have noticed changes sweeping through Egypt. But they did not see foresee the current political chaos. Over the past several days, Moryan and her family have been struggling to get in touch with her relatives in Egypt as the violence escalates.
1.  Does much of your family still live in Egypt? My extended family, like my parents’ first cousins and my parents’ aunts and uncles are still in Egypt. Most of them live in Cairo. I talk to them on Facebook sometimes. We’ve been to Egypt to visit and they’ve come to America to visit us.  Egyptian families are very large and very close so we talk to them regularly.
2.  When was the last time you or your family visited Egypt? The last time I went to Egypt was when I was 7.  My first cousin went to Egypt for Christmas.  He came back a few weeks ago.  Whenever my relatives come back from Egypt, they say it has changed since when they were there last.  But I don’t think they saw this coming. I don’t think any of my family saw this coming.
3.  Did your family in Egypt see this violence coming? They didn’t see the violence coming. It’s not surprising because the Egyptian economy is terrible and it’s a struggle for everyone who lives there. But it surprised me how quickly it all went into chaos. Egypt was a lot safer when my parents used to live there. You could walk in the street and leave doors unlocked. You were not afraid of being injured.
4. What do you think of President Barack Obama’s call for a political transition? It’s really important that the political transition is to a group that is as moderate and secular and peaceful as possible. There are extreme groups in Egypt. If they get more control of the government, that could cause a lot of trouble for the U.S., the Christian community in Egypt, and an already unstable Middle East.  Christians have the same problems as Muslims in Egypt right now in terms of the economy. They all want to have better jobs and be making more money. This is the problem that plagues everyone in Egypt.  But Christians could have other problems if a Muslim-run government comes into power. This could also lead to more violence for Christians in Egypt.
5.  What are your thoughts on Mubarak’s announcement that he will step down in September? I think it would be a little unreasonable for Mubarak to step down today because an effective political transition could not occur so quickly. But I don’t think he should wait until September because the violence would be too great. So if he could step down in the near future, to me that seems the most reasonable.
6. Do you consider yourself pro- or anti-Mubarak?  I understand that under Mubarak the economy has suffered and I think that is a completely valid reason to want him gone. I am only nervous about the extreme groups that could take over after he is gone. It’s not that I support Mubarak. I’m just nervous about what extremism the other political groups may bring to the government. That is a common fear among Christians in Egypt.
7.  What are your thoughts about the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading political group currently poised to take over after Mubarak? I don’t exactly know how extreme the Muslim Brotherhood is. I know when there was an attack on a Christian church in Alexandria on New Years Eve, Mubarak’s government responded quickly to that. I don’t know if a more religious government would have responded as well or as quickly to that type of attack. I support a secular government in Egypt.
8.  What have you heard about the recent escalating violence in Egypt? The main thing that I’ve heard is that there is a lot of looting. My mom’s cousin told us that the men from her apartment are taking turns patrolling around the complex to prevent people from coming in and looting. My family isn’t participating in the protests. They are more concerned with the safety of their own families. Mostly what they are concerned about is the looting and the economy because since the violence has been escalating, they haven’t been able to go to work or get as much food. Most of my family members who live in Egypt are older and retired. They just want peace.
9.  Have you been able to get in touch with your family in Egypt? My grandparents, my aunts and my mom have been talking about how often they’ve been trying to get in touch with family there. The internet is down and phones are not necessarily working, so it has been difficult.  We have been calling regularly every day but we have only been able to get in touch them once in a while.
10. How is your family in America reacting to these events?  I think it’s very upsetting for my entire family. I think my dad especially is very upset. He spent 28 years of his life in Egypt and I think it’s very disappointing to him, what’s going on right now. Egypt has changed drastically since his childhood. From my point of view, the greatest concern is to end the violence as soon as possible.

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