THE ONGOING political upheaval in Egypt was narrowly avoided by Enniskillen student, Eoghain Eillis, who flew home from the north African country just two days before the military coup there.
The removal of former President Morsi by Egypt’s military, has culminated in a spate of violence and unrest centred around the country’s capital, Cairo.
Eoghain, who spent nine months – from September 2012 to July of this year – living in Cairo as part of his university course, spoke this week of his time in the country.
“The reason I was there is I’m studying Arabic, so I lived in Egypt from September 2012 to July of this year,” explained 21-year-old, Oxford University student, Eoghain.
“To put it simply, there’s been a revolution as most people will know. And now they’re in a post-revolution, political turmoil, where no-one can really agree on what should be done with the country.
“The president has been removed by the army. So it’s in a state where no-one really knows what’s going to happen.”
While the major protesting, and violence may have came days after he left the country, Eoghain still experienced times of ‘intimidation’.
“When I first arrived there were a lot of people on the street protesting, Morsi was still in the early days of his reign – and people wanted to show him that they expected him to do a good job; to keep the pressure on. Once, I came close to being caught in tear gas when I was passing through Tahrir square. Police were breaking up a protest – and there was tear gas used.”
He added: “At times I found it very difficult to move around Cairo. In one case I was in taxi and these men stopped the car and were holding bats and weapons. They stopped and asked us where we were from and what we were doing here. They were people from Tahir square that were passing through.”
In the middle of his stay, Eoghain described how things ‘calmed down’, however, towards the end remembered protesters handing out leaflets on the street saying ‘there’s going to be a rebellion’.
“Two days after I left Egypt, the president was removed by the army. And there were literally millions of protesters on the street. It actually became dangerous for foreigners to be there.
“It was a coincidence that the time I got my flight home was just prior to when things started to get a lot worse.”
But was it a case of a ‘lucky escape’?
“On the one hand, yes, obviously I didn’t want to come to harm. But I’d been there so long I began to care about what was happening and it would have been very interesting to be there when people were on the streets protesting.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition