An American mother and author living in Cairo, Egypt with her two sons and husband has been chronicling her family's decision to temporarily leave the turbulent country amid growing violence following the ousting of former-President Mohamed Morsi last month.
Monique El-Faizy, a journalist who has written for such publications as The New York Times and the Washington Post, moved to Cairo with her two children and husband on Aug. 14 to begin a two-year study for her book about Egypt's Coptic Christians. After witnessing the continued riots and hostility portrayed by Morsi loyalists towards Christians and security forces, El-Faizy decided to evacuate her two children to Rome, Italy temporarily until the country becomes more stable.
El-Faizy wrote in a blog for Today.com that she and her family had just moved to Cairo a little over a week ago, and were hoping to wait out the civil unrest, as they were just transitioning from a hotel to a house and were hoping to be fully settled. The mother of two writes in the blog post that although she did not see violence firsthand, continual news reports of mosque attacks and the announcement that her children's school was pushing back its school year start date due to the unrest encouraged her to temporarily leave the country. Additionally, many companies in Cairo had ordered employees and their families to evacuate the city.
The author writes that after successfully finding mattresses for their new home in spite of the 7 p.m. curfew enforced by the country's interim security forces, she was hoping she would feel more settled in their new home, "but too many of the people I met said their companies had ordered their families out."
"The night before, a friend with a journalist husband told me he'd been disturbed enough by what he'd seen on the streets to want her to get out with the kids for a while, too. I'd been consoling myself with the argument that the school administration, who had been getting daily security updates, was still sending email messages saying they were starting on time - until that night, when they sent an email saying they weren't. That was the straw that, ahem, broke the camel's back," El-Faizy wrote.
After a hectic journey on the congested roadways leading to the airport, El-Faizy and her two boys safely boarded an EgyptAir flight for Rome, planning to stay at a friend's beachside house for the next few days. El-Faizy's husband, Oliver, stayed behind in Cairo to prepare the home. Although their initial accommodation plans fell through, El-Faizy managed to book a hotel in Rome for the next few days.
"And let's be honest. There are far worse places to be homeless than in this eternally beautiful city," El-Faizy wrote.
El-Faizy has been chronicling her arrival in Cairo on her personal blog since Aug. 14. On that date, she wrote of her family's arrival in the North African country and how in spite of unrest in downtown Cairo, they managed to navigate their way toward a hotel on the outskirts of the city before curfew fell. El-Faizy's husband, also a journalist, reportedly knew the British cameraman, Mick Deane, who was shot and killed in Cairo last Wednesday while covering the protests.
Since Morsi's ousting from the presidency in early July, Egypt has been in a growing state of turmoil. Tensions reached a head last Wednesday when Morsi loyalists, staging sit-in camps in Cairo, were ordered to disperse by security forces that used bulldozers and gunfire against protesters when they refused to cooperate. Later, witnesses claimed security forces flooded the al-Fatah mosque in Cairo's Ramses Square, where dozens of pro-Morsi protesters had gathered.
Varying death toll reports indicate hundreds of Egyptian citizens have been killed in the protests, as well as 38 Muslim Brotherhood prisoners who were reportedly shot dead by security forces in Cairo, according to ABC News. Additionally, the minority Christian population in the country has been suffering violent harassment by radical Islamists who have scapegoated Copts for the ousting of Morsi. According to the Maspero Youth Union, 38 churches have been burned throughout the country, as well as another 23 damaged due to vandalism. Additionally, several Christians have been killed in the violence, with widespread complaints that authoritiea are providing little or no protection for them.
The European Union has threatened to cut off aid to Egypt if the violence continues, but the country's interim government, which took over after Morsi left power, has argued that the conflict is an internal affair and should not affect international relations. The European Union on Wednesday decided to suspend arms exports to Egypt, but did not touch aid programs.