Egypt crisis hits home in Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Egypt crisis hits home in Hawaii

Kelli Meskin Kelli Meskin
Sue Tawfik Sue Tawfik
Amina Amina

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's small Egyptian community is watching the historic events unfold nine thousand miles away.

We caught up with Kelli Meskin, by phone, in her home just south of Cairo. She recently made the trek back to the capital city from Kauai. Meskin moved to Egypt to study Arabic exactly two years ago, on February 1st. She feels safe in Egypt - for now - and describes Tuesday's demonstrations as "exciting".

"This is historic," says Meskin. "I don't know of any protests that have two million people asking for their President to step down and start a whole revolution and a new government, and there's been no casualties that day." But there has, of course, been bloodshed over the last week of protests and clashes between demonstrators and police. Still, Meskin wants people back home to know that Egyptians have our same hospitable nature.

"They're very community-oriented - which is like Hawaii," she says. "We're very communal, and we band together, and we help each other out, and they're very much like that. And that's a really nice sense I have when I'm here."

Sue Tawfik left her Egyptian homeland two decades ago and now owns a store in Honolulu called Graze. She speaks with her relatives in Cairo often and says the men in her family have had to take up arms.

"We have to take care of our family and everybody go downstairs with guns or with any weapon to protect the neighborhood or protect the family or protect the building or whatever," explains Tawfik

She says people in Hawaii should learn a lesson from the basic struggles of people half a world away. "We should be thankful for what we have here. That's what I mean. We have everything we ask for. We have freedom."

Freedom that hits home even for this reporter. I've tried for days to reach my friend, Amina, in Cairo, via Facebook and email, but the internet is still down. It's something that also frustrates Kelli Meskin. She says she's waiting to see how things will go but ultimately, is open to leaving Egypt if things get worse.

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