A couple who witnessed the joy of the Arab Spring two years ago can’t help but be disappointed by the current Egyptian uprising that has left hundreds dead.
Megan Witham-Carroll and her boyfriend, Jay Newell, spoke with young people in Egypt in 2011 who were excited for change — a change that would bring employment and a share of the wealth, said the former Kamloops resident.
Now a student at the University of B.C., Witham-Carroll shakes her head at the rising death toll as authorities clash with supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi.
“When we were talking to people on the streets, (violence) is not what anyone wanted. It’s kinda sad to see that it went that way,” Witham-Carroll said during a phone interview with The Daily News.
“It was definitely about hope then, with everyone that we talked to.”
Witham-Carroll and Newell were on a tour in Egypt when the Arab Spring uprising began. They stayed in Dahab, which was well removed from the protests and street violence of the day, until a travel agent was able to arrange a flight out of the country.
She keeps in touch with a couple of the tour operators she and Newell met on Facebook. She said posts reflect both sides of the current clash but, no matter what side of the political spectrum her contacts are on, each is upset by the mounting death toll.
“They’re both just really upset. They don’t want the violence in their country,” she said.
For Newell, the 2011 uprising and chaos taking place now paints a clear picture of how difficult it is to change things after 35 years of rule.
“When there’s that much money and power at play, it’s not easy to change,” he said. “It takes a lot of time and, unfortunately, a lot of bloodshed.”
He’s surprised at how divided a country can be. Many Egyptians support Morsi’s removal from power while an almost equal number don’t believe the country’s first democratically elected leader should have been forcibly removed.
Having toured Egypt, Newell and Witham-Carroll hope what was once the world’s biggest tourist destination will recover from the current conflict.
“This is not good for tourism,” he said. “I was blown away by how cool the tourism experience was.”
Although they experienced some tense times during their stay, being a part of the uprising in 2011 is something Newell and Witham-Carroll will never forget, he said. The couple hopes Egypt will find its footing and peace along with it.
“How long does democracy take?” asked Newell. “It seems like, for the Middle East, it’s not going to come as quickly or as easily as some had hoped.”