Temple grad in Egypt: 'It's incredibly moving'

January 31, 2011 5:41:46 AM PST
The US embassy says it's arranging to begin flying Americans out of Egypt Monday, but that cannot come soon enough for a Temple University graduate who's studying in Egypt.

Deen Novelli tells Action News during a phone interview he's been taking part in the demonstrations in Egypt, but there is fear of the unknown - of what will happen to the country as the demonstrations continue and the regime responds.

He's been based in Alexandria, Egypt, where at least 31 have reportedly died during the unrest.

Alexandria has been the center of the crisis in Egypt and Novelli has been right in the middle of it.

"You hear 20,000 people just chanting in unison, 'We want freedom,' it's incredibly moving," Novelli said

Novelli, who graduated Temple in 2010, says the demonstrations have intensified as the dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak has increased its oppression.

Social media has been cutoff, as well as internet access, a curfew was implemented and for more than two days, people in Egypt had no access to cell phone service.

"Police basically are the oppressors; they're the thugs of Mubarak and they rule the streets," Novelli said.

Novelli, who graduated from Lower Merion Hgh School in 2004, is studying Arabic at Alexandria University. He says the Egyptian people have accepted him with open arms.

As he walked step for the step with them during protests, he heard a common plea.

"[They say] 'Please, please tell the world what's going on right here, please tell the world about our struggles, please tell the world to support us in our revolt against the dictator,'" Novelli said.

For Deen's parents, Alisa and Albert Novelli, the past several days have been filled with worry and work to get their son home safely after the State Department urged all nonessential US personnel to leave the country.

"Really today and yesterday was when I was beside myself because I kept watching the news and things seemed to be escalating," Alisa said.

"We want him to get home safely tomorrow. We're concerned about him getting a 3-hour journey to Cairo and what awaits him at the airport," Albert said.

While the fragile state of the country and his parents' increasing worry are forcing Novelli to come home, he says his support for the people there will remain.

"I should say there is some fear, but it's more a fear of the unknown, the uncertainty, because I know Mubarak is a very, very stubborn man and he's very aggressive and he's spiteful right now," Novelli said.

After his return home tomorrow, Novelli says he plans to come back to Egypt once the situation settles.