Chicago-Area Egyptian Witnesses Revolution Unfold

A Chicago man is caught in the chaos in Cairo -- by choice.

Ahmed Rehab learned about the plans for protests in Egypt and planned his month long vacation so he could be in the country where he was born as history unfolds.

"I planned it to be here so that I could participate heart and soul, body and mind with the people during these times," Rehab said in a phone call.

He is in a suburb of Cairo where he participated in the protests, survived being tear-gassed and dodged rubber bullets fired by police trying to quell anti-government protests that have taken over much of the country.

Rehab was born in Egypt, but raised in the United States and is an American citizen. He serves as the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago.

We talked shortly after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak went on Egyptian television to announce he would remain on as president, but had fired his cabinet ministers. That move only seemed to incite protesters further.

"It was a scene of jubilation yet chaos," Rehab said. But the announcement was not well received he added.

"Absolute disgruntlement. The people came out today to call for an end to this regime, they're not interested in this games of so called government changes," he said.

Rehab was blogging about his experience, until the Egyptian government shut down access to the internet. He then tried to stay in contact with his colleagues back at CAIR in Chicago via cell phone, but the government shut that down too. He was able to call in on a landline and dictate an update.

"Being in the front lines we have to push back on the crowds to take cover at a gas station," he told his coworkers who planned up update his blog for him. They have been riveted to the news as the scene has been unfolding in Egypt. But somehow they manage to be at peace with Rehab being there.

"Although he's come close to being hit by tear gas and rubber bullets, I'm not too worried about him. I know he's throwing himself into the thick of things but he should be okay, he's really dedicated to the cause and loves what he's doing, said Amina Sharif, the communications director for CAIR.

Saturday at 2 p.m. a protest is planned outside the Egyptian Consulate on North Michigan Avenue. Several hundred people and perhaps more are expected to be at the rally.
Source: MyFox Chicago
Chicago-Area Egyptian Watches Protesters Clash with Police