Northern California professor attacked in Egypt

February 4, 2011 5:57:49 PM PST
Tahrir Square was transformed from a battleground to a holy ground for a short time on Friday, as thousands of protesters stopped to pray. Friday is the Muslim holy day. However, when the praying stopped, the chanting resumed and in the middle of the crowd was a Northern California professor who's been attacked once already.

There was a show of support in Sacramento for the professor who teaches at UC Davis. She says she was beaten by the mob and she wasn't the only one.

Noon prayers were followed by the same message now heard for more than a week: "leave, leave Mubarak."

At one point the Egyptian defense minister visited the square attempting to calm things down; he was the highest prominent government official to do so.

ABC7 spoke to professor Khaled Fahmy from The American University in Cairo who said the crowd was too big, too empowered. He described the crowd as having "the sense of excitement. The sense of thinking the people now own their own destiny. They have a future to aspire to. They have something to look up to."

Cairo's Tahrir Square has been the focal point of protests, but on Friday things remained relatively peaceful. It was a far cry from the past two days when government supporters clashed with demonstrators demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down.

Things quickly became violent on Thursday even away from the square. Home video taken from a building shows a green police van plowing through a crowd, hitting several people.

A number of journalists and human rights activists were also detained. UC Davis professor Noha Radwan, Ph.D., left for Egypt to be with her father who is ill. She was interviewed in Cairo by Democracy Now.

"Mubarak has hired thugs and mobs to make sure that we never have a fair election or a referendum in the past," said Radwan.

After that interview, Radwan was attacked by a mob in the streets.

In Sacramento on Friday Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and others condemned the attack. Radwan talked to them over the phone from Cairo. She says after being taken to the hospital she was threatened again.

"And they again started crying American, foreigner, get them, get them," said Radwan.

She says one of the doctors feared she might be killed if she left the hospital.

"So he decided to actually hide me in the hospital under the claim that I was a relative of his," said Radwan.

It's worth mentioning that Radwan is a Muslim and the doctor who helped her is a Christian. Professor Radwan says he took a big risk.