Revolts back home worry Arab students in City

Armed clashes have flared in Libya following the ouster of dictators in Egypt and Tunisia, and protests have since been reported in Bahrain, Yemen and Oman, and tensions are rising in countries from West Africa through West Asia to China. Antonio Alberto Cossa, president of Bangalore’s Federation of International Student Associations, said students from affected countries widely discussed their situations, which had caused some disruptions. “We are aware of a number of issues to students here. Some have said they can’t pay their fees and so on,” Cossa said.

The Federation had been made aware of students from Libya dealing with the unrest in their countries, but they could not be reached.

Dr John Patrick Ojawando, a spokesman for International Affairs at Garden City College, said the situation was constantly on the minds of those from affected countries. “Everyone is worried about what’s happening. And they would be, because they have relatives,” he said.

St Joseph’s College student Armeen Hassanpur, from Iran, said the situation in his country was different from Egypt, Libya and the other Arab states, but he was familiar with huge resentment against an authoritarian regime. He had a friend who joined a public protest and was not heard from for more than two years. He came back addicted to drugs and brainwashed. “He was like a dead man walking,” Hassanpur said.

“I just don’t think it’s worth going out there to protest. Many of my friends have disappeared. The ruling government is cruel — killing thousands, even millions, wouldn’t bother them much.” Life in India, in comparison, was much simpler, he said. Last week, residents in Tehran, Iran’s capital, reported pockets of protests and clashes with security forces on its streets.

In close touch

Waseem Abdul Wadood, from Yemen, said he kept in close touch with friends and family through Facebook, and the protests in his country had been peaceful. It was only a small group calling for the president’s resignation, and they had not caused any disruptions for him at all, he said.

CNN has reported that suspected Al Qaeda militants killed four Yemeni soldiers on Sunday, and two officers in the Yemeni Political Security Organisation, the country’s intelligence agency, were assassinated in separate incidents. Protesters have blocked students from getting to some universities in the country.

But more than 100 Yemeni students continued to enjoy their time in the City undisturbed, Wadood said.

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