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Patrick Springer, Published February 05 2011

Fargo doctor keeps eye on Egypt

Dr. Samy Karaz has been so engrossed in the protests in his native Egypt that the specialist in sleeping disorders quips he’s become sleep deprived.

Karaz, who immigrated to the United States 30 years ago, has lived in Fargo for 28 years. A psychiatrist, he specializes in sleep medicine at Sanford Health.

But he keeps a close eye on the news from Egypt; his mother and cousins live in suburbs near Cairo, the scene of massive protests seeking to oust President Hosni Mubarak from power.

“They are all doing fine,” he said Friday.

So far, the news from his family is encouraging, although he remains concerned, given the uncertainty of the outcome. He has been able to maintain regular communication with his mother via her landline telephone.

“She is very calm and relaxed,” Karaz said. “She’s maybe three or four miles from where the action is.”

Still, stores and banks have been closed throughout the massive protests, and Karaz is concerned his relatives and others will run out of food and supplies if the unrest continues.

“I’m starting to get worried the last couple of days,” said Karaz, a Cairo University graduate who did a residency at the University of North Dakota. “It’s very volatile.”

He praised the protesters and their sustained push for democracy.

“It’s just beautiful to see,” he said. “This is an oppressed country. I was very proud of these young people.”

Still, he worries about the outcome. He believes many pro-Mubarak dem­on­stra­tors who clashed earlier this week with pro-democracy demonstrators were police wearing street clothes.

Some of the pro-Mubarak demonstrators rode horses or camels and carried whips. “This is not an average Egyptian,” Karaz said.

He credited President Barack Obama’s handling of the situation so far in calling for Mubarak to leave office and to refrain from violence while not advocating a replacement.

“I think he’s handled it reasonably well,” Karaz said.

He keeps watching news broadcasts and reading news reports as the drama unfolds in his homeland.

“I’m sleep deprived,” he said, joking.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522