February 4, 2011 in City

Former Spokane residents say they’re safe in Egypt

By The Spokesman-Review

The Rev. Ben Robinson is seen in a self-portrait photo taken in Cairo, Egypt, before the recent uprising.
(Full-size photo)

Former Spokane residents living in Cairo reported they were safe on Thursday despite reported attacks on foreigners and journalists by pro-government groups.

The violent turn, however, has forced the Rev. Ben and Emily Robinson to reconsider plans to stay in Egypt, which has been their home for the past year and a half.

“We’re leaving first thing in the morning,” said Ben Robinson, an associate pastor at St. John the Baptist Church in Maadi. He and his wife, a nurse at the U.S. Embassy, will fly to Rome.

Photojournalist Holly Pickett, who has been covering the anti-government protests, reports that she is safe, though she knows of attacks on journalists.

Pickett, a freelance photographer who previously worked for The Spokesman-Review, said she does not plan to leave Cairo, which has been her home for the past three years.

Robinson said Westerners were being attacked and arrested.

“For now we are safe in our home,” he said. “However, we fear anti-foreigner sentiment spreading since the government seems to be encouraging it.”

He said Vice President Omar Suleiman appeared on television and blamed “foreign infiltrators” for the disturbances.

“This was devastating, because Cairo is the safest city we have visited, and just yesterday things seemed to be getting so much better,” Robinson said.

The Presbyterian minister and son of former Whitworth University President Bill Robinson said the American School is evacuating, and police told him they could not provide security for church service today.

Robinson said he hoped to return to Cairo in a few weeks.

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