A TEACHER has fled the Egyptian capital of Cairo as the country’s residents try to overthrow the Government.
Isi Dalzell, 53, of Bottom Lane, Bisbrooke, witnessed firsthand the protests attended by millions of people in Cairo as they attempt to force president Hosni Mubarak to quit.
When the protests started on Friday last week in Cairo, Isi, who was teaching at a school near the city, went to support the people she lives and works with.
She said: “People in Egypt have been repressed for years. They are afraid to speak out for fear of being arrested.
“As soon as these protests started people started to shout out about what they believe in. My landlady Camilla summed it up when she said ‘We are finally proud to be Egyptian’.”
About two million men and women, young and old, have protested in Cairo and Tahrir Square, known locally as Freedom Square, has been packed for the past week
On Friday last week Isi, who lived in Zamalek, an island in the River Nile in the heart of Cairo, went into the square.
She said: “Before the protests started everyone was praying in the mosque and were due to come out at 1pm. At about 12.55pm the police started firing tear gas so the protesters walked straight out into it.
“We went into a cafe nearby and I had some eye drops so I was trying to help as many people as I could.”
As the protests intensified Isi and her colleagues were forced to shelter in the nearby Intercontinental Hotel to avoid police who were charging at them with batons.
She said: “We could see the protesters on a bridge and when they called for prayers, all the Muslims knelt down in front of the police and started to pray. It was very moving.”
On Sunday Isi was returning home after the 5pm curfew when saw home and business owners holding sticks and stones ready to fight off any looters.
Isi, who has two sons Matthew, 24, and William, 21, began to think about leaving the country.
She said: “At that point I started to feel scared.”
She added: “The banks and internet had been shut down so I was not able to communicate easily with my family. It was difficult and very expensive, but I managed to get through on my mobile.
“I came home because I thought it was not fair to put added pressure onto people.”
She spoke to her colleagues about leaving.
Isi said: “We had a meeting afterwards and decided that we needed to leave the country.
After two days of trying to get a plane ticket back to the UK, Isi and 91 of her colleagues and their families managed to get a flight home.
She said: “The British Embassy were not at all helpful and we had to kick up a fuss both at home and in Egypt.
“We were finally able to go to a travel agent in Zamalek that took our credit card details and booked us a flight.”
Isi arrived back in Rutland on Tuesday and has been glued to her computer and the television ever since to keep track of what is going on.
The internet and phone lines have been restored in Egypt so Isi can talk to people there.
She said: “I have been speaking to my friends who are still out there and they say that morale is still high, but people are starting to get frightened about being identified as protesters.
“I’m not going to go back until I know it’s safe but I’m finding it very frustrating seeing what is happening on the news.
“I very much hope that when I do go back it will be to a changed Egypt. The whole of the country has been united by this.”
Isi taught at Corby Business Academy before deciding to take a gap year and teach abroad. She started working at the British International School near Cairo five months ago.
She said: “My sons Matthew and William are both grown up and I have always wanted to travel so thought I would work abroad for a year.
“Egypt and its history has always fascinated me so this was the perfect opportunity.”
Five people have died and hundreds injured in fighting between supporters of the president and protesters in Tahrir Square.