Buxton man praises Egyptian protesters

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A FORMER Buxton man now living in Cairo has praised the Egyptian people for their peaceful protests.

Scott Allsop told the Advertiser: “Egyptians are peaceful, and the violence and chaos that is being shown on the news is not reflective of the country or the people as a whole.”

He moved to Cairo in August 2008, with his wife, and they both work at an international school in the capital.

“The country and our jobs are both fantastic, and just a month ago we signed new contracts to extend our stay.”

They were in Luxor taking part in a run to raise funds for a charity they support when the protests calling for a more democratic government started.

“We sent text messages to friends and family at home to let them know how we’d got on, and felt quite upset that we didn’t receive any replies,” explained Scott.

It was only later that they realised their families hadn’t responded because mobile phone communication in Egypt had been severed.

Using the expensive hotel phone they were able to reassure their families that they were safe.

They managed to get on the next available flight from Luxor to Cairo but arrived after curfew. Fortunately their school had secured security passes through the curfew and provided a school bus to drive them from the airport, and their headteacher offered her spare room for them to stay in that night.

“While driving into her suburb of Cairo, the usually packed roads were eerily quiet. We were stopped and had our passports checked by the army who had created a roadblock with two tanks and an APC. It was like an alternative reality,” said Scott.

Their school is set to remain closed until February 20, although Scott’s role as Online Learning Coordinator means that they have been able to offer education over the internet to students no matter where they or their teachers are.

Some of the couple’s friends have left the country, but they currently have no plans to leave.

He added: “We have a routine now: wake up at the end of the curfew and head to our apartment for a few hours. The British Cairo Association clubhouse remains open during the day and acts as a meeting point for ex-pats. We ensure that we are home before the evening curfew and turn on the news to follow events throughout the evening.

“At this point in time it is frankly impossible to know how events are going to unfold. The peaceful protests of the pro-democracy demonstrators are incredibly moving: these are the Egyptian people we have known over our time here. We hope that they achieve their aims.”