Chicago’s Egyptian community ‘very hopeful’ about overthrow of Morsi
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org July 5, 2013 6:52PM
Akram Madbouli, a native Egyptian who lives in Chicago, says there is still a lot of hope in Egypt. | Tina Sfondeles~Sun-Times
Updated: August 7, 2013 6:14AM
For native Egyptian Akram Madbouli, the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi means the possibility of a better life for his three sisters and their children.
Madbouli has lived in Chicago for 23 years, but speaks to his family in Egypt daily on the phone. For the past year, he’s heard more stories of worry than joy: “Their lives have been very hard,” Madbouli, 49, said Friday at the Alibaba Hookah Cafe, a popular Egyptian hangout in Albany Park.
His sisters told him of the days they didn’t feel safe standing outside their home at night. Or when both their electricity and water had been cut off for hours in the scorching summer heat.
“As the year passed, everything went downhill. Unemployment went way up. We had so many problems with gas, with electricity, with crime,” Madbouli said. “The Egyptians felt so disappointed [in Morsi], and they could not go with that for any longer.”
But after’s Wednesday’s military coup, Madbouli and his family began to hope again.
“There is a lot of hope going around,” Madbouli said. “We have to be very hopeful. Otherwise, everything is not going to work. Hope is going to come with hard work, not just hoping — working and doing our best to help the economy, and being realistic.”
The rebuilding of Egypt means creating peace among all people in the country, he says, including the Muslim extremists who supported the presidency: “We have to support and understand the extremists. They are Egyptians, and we have to understand where they come from and we are trying now to take them as part of our society.”
Egyptian-American Cherif Bassiouni, professor emeritus at DePaul University, said there was no other choice for the people of Egypt than to overthrow Morsi’s theocratic government.
“There was no way for anything else to occur because there is no way to impeach under the new constitution [which was forced on Egyptians] and so it was necessary for the army to intervene, less the country was going to completely fall into social, political and economic chaos,” Bassiouni said.
Bassiouni once taught at a law school in Egypt, and travels back several times a year. He, too, believes the economy, and government can soon begin to rebuild.
“After a crisis like this, there’s going to be some period of uncertainty,” Bassiouni said. “But the new cabinet is going to focus on economics, so I think this is going to be very positive.”