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Johns Hopkins Grad Students Return From Egypt

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)–There are more dead in Egypt as violence grows more intense on the streets of Cairo.

Mike Hellgren has fresh perspective on the chaos from Johns Hopkins University students who just left Egypt.

Johns Hopkins graduate students Meredith Fraser and Ashley Fiutko returned Wednesday night from Luxor, where they were studying, when protests began to grow over the weekend.

“We spent most of the afternoon on the roof of our hotel, watching people march through the street,” Fiutko said. “We definitely had to go in at one point because they were throwing tear gas.” 

“There were molotov cocktails being thrown at government buildings,” Fraser said.

“We could see people breaking into buildings, throwing rocks at them,” Fiutko said.

“When we saw how it escalated is when we started feeling we should probably get out of here sooner rather than later,” Fraser said.

The JHU grad students say the scenes now coming out of Cairo are far more heated and that their Egyptian friends were the first to worry about their safety.

“The Egyptians were so concerned about us,” Fiutko said. “And I think with the foreigners leaving, now they can focus on their own problems.”

And they had to keep their families in the United States up-to-date.

“Our families were definitely concerned,” Fiutko said. “Luckily, we were able to call home.”

“And through the Internet when we still had it,” Fraser added.

Their journey home took them to Qatar, then to London and then on a flight to Dulles.

Both have such a passion for Egypt, its history and its culture. They say they can’t wait to return and are anxious to see what the future holds for this ancient land.

“It felt anxious,” Fraser said.  “There was definitely that tense, anxious feeling.” 

“It’s good to see change happening, but without knowing what the results are going to be, it’s definitely worrisome,” Fiutko said.

Several members of the Maryland National Guard are headed to Egypt next month. That was an event planned before the protests.

President Hosni Mubarak said he is ready to leave office but cannot step down before elections because he fears chaos if he leaves now.

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