New Delhi, Aug. 24: As he heard fists pounding on his hostel room door last week, Lucknow-born 24-year-old Mohsin Iqbal wondered whether he had erred in staying back in Cairo during the semester break at its famous Al-Azhar University, where he studies.
He didn???t know who the fists belonged to. It could have been supporters of Mohamed Mursi, the first elected President of Egypt, propelled into power by the Arab Spring. Or it could have been backers of the Egyptian military that overthrew Mursi in July in a coup that has set off bloody street battles that have already claimed hundreds of lives and threaten to unravel into a civil war.
It didn???t matter once Iqbal opened the door and identified himself as Indian. ???That immediately changed their expressions, their attitude,??? Iqbal said of the intruders, who turned out to be young pro-Mursi supporters. ???They became quiet, and I???ll always remember one of them saying that I would be safe, that neither side would hurt Indians.???
Over 200 Indian students are studying at Al-Azhar University and at least another 2,500 Indian professionals and businessmen are scattered across Cairo and the port cities of Alexandria and Port Said, according to community leaders and officials at the Indian embassy in Egypt.
But a half-century-old relationship of friendship dating back to the personal ties between Jawaharlal Nehru and Gamal Abdel Nasser and India???s persistent care to avoid picking between the military and civilian leaders ??? a policy criticised by some ??? are today keeping Indians in Egypt safe.