Mariam Aziz heard gunshots through the phone as she talked to her best friend in Cairo at 5 a.m. on Jan. 29.
Her best friend, trapped in her apartment, was running out of food and did not know how to get more.
Aziz, an Egyptian sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been leading protests in D.C. throughout the week.
“I am anxiously awaiting the day when I cancel the events and instead march in celebration of freedom, of liberty, of democracy and dignity,” she said in an e-mail. “My heart has always broken for those who are killed everywhere in the world, but when its my home, it’s a whole different world. My eyes have dried up and all I can do is pray and protest.”
Her family is still in Cairo, where more than a hundred looters attacked their building on Jan. 28, trying to rob the first floor’s bank.
Aziz’s mother called her the next day, her voice shaking and crying.
“Talking to my mom [the next] morning and then my best friend at night just shattered my heart into pieces,” she said. “At 3 a.m. on Sunday I woke up in terror, remembering that my other best friend is diabetic and fearing that she does not have insulin, without which she would go into a coma or even die if her sugar levels messed up.”
Farida Aboulmagd, a sophomore in the School of International Service also from Egypt, finds it hard to believe that the rule of the man who has controlled Egypt for her entire life is finally being challenged.
“Most of my friends and I have known nothing but the same Egypt under [President Hosni] Mubarak,” she said. “It’s incredible to see the Egyptian people take to the streets and finally try to take matters in their own hands.”
After watching her people form a barricade around the Egyptian Museum to prevent further vandals and looters from entering, Aboulmagd said she felt proud to be an Egyptian.
The country’s unrest has caused Egyptians to unite to protect themselves, which Aziz said has been incredible to hear about.
“People all across the country are having shifts to have people on the streets at every single moment, with guns and sticks to protect their families against the reportedly government-hired thugs,” she said. “It’s incredible to see how the Egyptian people are literally acting together hand in hand.”
Aziz thinks students here need to do more to support the Egyptian people.
“How many AU students went out to the [Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear]? Hundreds?” Aziz said. “Whereas no more than a dozen came out to stand in solidarity with brothers and sisters being massacred, to stand up against one of our time’s more tyrannical dictators. I hope the community will start to walk the talk.”