By Mark Geary, The Gazette
University of Iowa Political Science student Dan Olinghouse, 25, watches Al-Jazeera TV on his laptop computer at his home in Ankeny. Photo credit: Erik Arendt
ANKENY – University of Iowa political science student Dan Olinghouse, 25, is safe at home in Ankeny, but he’s spending much of his time online watching Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the turmoil in Egypt.
Olinghouse was taking part in a study abroad program in the country when the riots began.
‘They were taking people and dropping them off in the desert with no money, no phone … nothing,’ Olinghouse said.
Even though he knew it was dangerous, Olinghouse used his cell phone to snap pictures and shoot video.
‘A lot of people thought I was a reporter. So that made it doubly dangerous for me because I was moving through the crowd a lot,’ he said.
He said he knows he’s lucky to be back on American soil, especially after watching explosions right in front of him. ‘It turned into chaos really fast,’ he said, ‘I don’t feel like any less of a man to say I was scared when people were firing automatic weapons outside my apartment or when I got attacked by five police officers and they stole my stuff.’ When the violence became even more intense, he planned his escape.
‘I stood on my balcony with my bag and my suitcase ready to go and I waited until there was a lull so I could run out,’ he said.
He flagged down a cab and finally made it to the airport.
Although his adventure has ended, he said he plans to keep in touch with his friends back in Egypt and monitor as much as he can from his computer.
He left the country on Feb. 3 and arrived back home on Sunday. He will resume classes at UI next week, but said he would like to return to Egypt someday.
Olinghouse said he plans to combine all of the video and pictures he shot into a film to help educate others about the history he witnessed.