Norwich pub landlord returns from protest-hit Egypt

The landlord of a popular Norwich pub has just returned from a two-week break in Egypt where he witnessed how the whole country has been plunged into turmoil following the mass demonstrations calling for the end of the president's 30-year rule.

Chris Higgins, landlord of the Trafford pub on Grove Road, Norwich, had been staying at Sharm el Sheikh, a tourist resort which has not suffered from the violence which has hit the major cities. But he was well aware of the protests in Cairo against President Hosni Mubarak which have so far resulted in more than 100 deaths.

Mr Higgins, who arrived back home on Sunday night, said: 'They cut all communication and tried to suppress all movement of information to try to control what was going on but we could pick it all up first hand on BBC and Al Jazeera. The boys there (at the hotel) have got family in Cairo and Alexandria and so we were getting up-to-date information about what was going on. They were worried about their families.'

Mr Higgins, who stayed in the Sharks Bay resort, said he was told trouble had been simmering for years with many people working hard to get qualifications but without the reward of a decent job or pay at the end of it.

He said: 'The Egyptian people I spoke to were fed up with nothing changing in their country. President Mubarak has been in power for 30 years and his son is being groomed to take over. They say there's a ruling elite and then a big gulf to the people on the street.'

The Norwich City season ticket holder, who travelled to Egypt to do some diving, said the protests were a double whammy for the country, coming so soon after the shark attacks in December. He added: 'We've been going out there for a number of years now and have developed a lot of love and affinity for the country and the people. I think its very sad that they have to go through all this to try and get themselves a decent existence. I just hope that for the benefit of the people things get resolved and they get some kind of democracy.'

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.

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Andrew Bell, managing director of Norwich International Airport, said flights to Sharm el Sheikh, a winter sun destination which operates from Norwich between November and April, are currently unaffected by the protests in Egypt.

He said the airport and travel operator Thomson would be 'keeping it under review' but were still encouraging people to go.

Have you been caught up in the trouble while on holiday in Egypt? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email