Menu
Lifestyle

Fame in the midst of two deadly Egyptian uprisings

Imam Zainadine Johnson presents a television show on mortality while living in Egypt.
Imam Zainadine Johnson presents a television show on mortality while living in Egypt. Contributed

EGYPTIAN life brought Imam Zainadine Johnson unexpected fame and put him in the midst of two deadly national uprisings.

He and his family landed in Alexandria in 2010 after an ill-fated attempt to enter Jordan.

Imam Zainadine set about quenching his thirst for Islamic knowledge.

His studies focused on the Quran and he took lessons on Islamic belief, not so much in the style of university studies but more his own curriculum.

The following year he was accepted to study at Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

His family remained in Alexandria while he studied.

Imam Zainadine was visiting his family in Egypt during a mid-semester break when weeks of mass protests led to the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarek.

"It was just mayhem," Imam Zainadine said.

Prisoners were freed from jails, meaning there were rapists and killers on the streets.

There was no way he could leave his family to return to Saudi Arabia at the end of the study break.

They couldn't afford to come back to Australia so they stayed put, mainly staying inside.

"In the time of lawlessness, there were no police so the community set up a neighbourhood watch."

Men armed themselves and kept a 24-hour guard over their neighbourhoods.

Imam Zainadine utilised a Don Bradman cricket bat his mother had given his children during an earlier visit to Australia as his choice of weapon.

It was a foreign object to the Egyptian locals and a source of mirth.

"They thought it was quite funny."

He was just glad he didn't have to use it.

Imam Zainadine struggled to get a visa from the Egyptian government during the time of unrest which prompted a move to Cairo to be closer to the source of administration.

He was overheard debating Islam in the street one day by a television show crew member who asked him to be a presenter.

A star was born.

Imam Zainadine presented a weekly show about Islamic teachings on the Egyptian channel Huda TV.

It was called Living Hearts.

His duties increased to nightly shows during the month of Ramadan for the show Seeds of Change.

It was presented in English and encouraged the teachings of the Quran and encouraged people to love their religion.

"I have a very big fan base in Africa."

But growing public opposition to Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, who had been elected in 2012, led to him being deposed by the country's military in mid-2013.

"When the military coup happened, I just said 'that's it'."

Life as a Muslim was difficult.

"They hated anyone who basically looked Islamic."

Imam Zainadine had already successfully applied to continue his studies in Malaysia.

However, his Malaysian visa had not come through so he and his wife decided to fly to Turkey for a holiday while it was processed.

They left Cairo in August, two days before more than 1000 pro-Morsi supporters were killed by security forces while protesting in the city's Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda squares.

He had lived just a five-minute drive away.

"Quite a few people I knew died in the protests."

He said he was lucky to get out.

"It was just a miracle that I didn't get imprisoned when I was leaving."

Their plan was stay in Turkey for a few weeks awaiting the Malaysian visa.

But it took too long for them to be able to afford to keep staying in holiday accommodation so they ended up renting a house in Istanbul for a year.

"We began to like Turkey, it was very nice."

Imam Zainadine set up an institute where people could learn Arabic in peace, as many of the traditional countries of study were no longer safe.

They included Syria, Yemen and Egypt.

"At one stage we got up to 36 students."

But financial support for the institute was difficult to secure and after two years of hard work and struggle, Imam Zainadine closed it down.

"It was two years living in poverty, pretty much."

He could no longer afford to study in Malaysia so he and his family moved to Indonesia in about June last year.

They lived at Bandung in West Java.

"We moved there because there were schools for the kids."

Imam Zainadine tried to learn Indonesian but he never got to a point where people would give him a job.

He was contacted by members of the Sunshine Coast Muslim community about becoming an Imam for the region and after weighing it up, he returned to Australia to take up his current role.

Topics:  big read egypt imam imam zainadine islam



What's changed in Ipswich real estate in 25 years

Ray White Ipswich principal Warren Ramsey.

Agent looks back on a quarter of a century selling homes in Ipswich

CMC Rocks: How to find some country love

Speed dating entrant Maddie McGoldrick of Beaudesert with her friend Chloe Ryan from Greenbank took part in the event last year and it was so popular, it's back in 2018

There could be the first ever CMC Rocks wedding at the 2018 event

Ipswich property price correction 'happening now'

Warren Ramsey said, luckily, sales started to increase after 2012 and the industry hasn't looked back since.

The Ipswich property market is yet to have its hey day

Local Partners

Road test review: BMW i3s is assault from battery

Dump the tie-dye shirt and dreadlocks, embrace the future with pint-sizer packing serious electric powered punch.

Used VW Tiguan gives plenty of engine and drive choices

The Volkswagen Tiguan.

VW Tiguan is classy, spacious cabin and excellent overall drive.

premium_icon Meet the state’s top OP students

Outstanding Academic Achiever: Rachel Hauenschild, of Kenmore State High School.

THE top students from the class of 2017 have been revealed

Joshua Grice awarded OP1 and highest ATAR possible

Brisbane Grammar School graduate Joshua Grice, 18. Picture: AAP/ Ric Frearson

'There’s a real culture of valuing academic excellence very highly

Scorned fiancee traps star’s mistress

Chelsea Lovelace felt Christoforou's wrath.

Saido Berahino’s fiancee called off their wedding

‘This photo was taken the night before I escaped’

Judy Sharp with her two sons while she was still in the abusive relationship. Picture: Facebook/TimSharp

JUDY Sharp doesn’t find it easy to look at this photo of herself with her young...

premium_icon Our top 50 schools for OP scores

Brisbane Grammar School was the second best performing school in terms of OP scores. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning

Queensland’s top 50 schools for OP scores in 2017