On Jan. 25, Aan Iskandar’s family in Cairo, Egypt, went to bed with knives in their hands for the first time.
“Last week was the worst week of my life,” Iskandar said. “I felt in fear, and I felt helpless. All we heard was people were going to protest. Then, all of a sudden, we saw lots of people on the street. I couldn’t get a hold of my family members.”
Iskandar, 21, has three aunts, four uncles and more than 15 cousins living in Cairo. She moved to Sarasota 11 years ago with her mother and brother, and after graduating high school, enrolled in classes at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee to study marketing.
Her father and brother, Originos and Andro Iskandar, who run a real-estate business in Cairo, flew to Sarasota Jan. 18 to visit. They were supposed to return to Egypt at the same time thousands of protestors flooded the streets to demonstrate against President Hosni Mubarek’s rule and call for his resignation.
“They were thinking about leaving, and my mom cried,” Iskandar said. “I think God kind of did this whole thing just for them to be here with us at this moment — this was the right time that they came. We had to pull them back to stay, but we know how my brother feels because his wife is there.”
Iskandar’s family is one of the largest in Cairo. Her best friends, whom she’s known since kindergarten, are still hearing gunshots. She’s worried they won’t find enough food because the streets are so unsafe. A curfew is also still in effect.
“We were praying for everybody,” Iskandar said. “We fasted for three days and went to church for all of our family that is there.”
Iskandar had planned to return to Cairo after earning her degree but isn’t sure it’s the right decision.
“We didn’t sleep for five days,” she said. “My dad is worried about his business and unsure of what to do next. He wants to go back, and he loves his country. Our hearts are over there all the time. We are just heartbroken.”
Contact Loren Mayo at firstname.lastname@example.org