Wednesday, February 9, 2011

09 Feb 2011

Dalia is also posting on Here is her most recent post...

The recent notes I wrote are musings on some of the things I am observing rather than updates on the revolution. In the last few days I was not capable of writing because I was not able to process all that was going on around me. I attended a couple of meetings that disheartened me. I was optimistic at times, frustrated or enraged other times, and truly exhausted most of the time.
Today is Wednesday. The 16th day since the revolution has started, on the blessed Tuesday, January 25th. The youth of the revolution gained so much ground in the first few days, then things stopped moving forward, and the political games started. The pressure of Tahrir square, with its increasing millions, is not the main pressing card any more. Life is resuming in a normal fashion in many places around the country. The square is surrounded by tanks and the streets around it are secured and isolated. But the rest of the city is moving normally. The curfew hours are extended, and most people are breaking the loosely observed curfew, and staying in the streets till late. The sporting clubs of the middle classes are opened and the kids are hanging out and playing.
Apart from the few tanks that secure the main road around Cairo, life is back to pre-revolution living, with congested streets and almost normal business hours. The banks and ATMs are extremely busy, while some of the broken and burnt stores are cleaning up and restoring their businesses.
The blockaded square in the heart of downtown Cairo is obstructing the work of a few vital ministries and hindering access to El Mogama’ (the central governmental administrative building in the heart of Cairo), in addition to the parliament, but it seems that this is not enough pressure on the government! And the square itself is changing.
In the last few days the energy of the square transformed, particularly because of the street vendors who are loudly calling out for their merchandise. I wonder about the increasing number of merchants, trying to figure out if it is Egyptian entrepreneurial spirit, or a plot from the government to turn the Square into a carnival, andthe revolution into a spectator sport.
The make-shift tents around Tahrir are giving the sides of the square the feel of shanty town, with people from outside Cairo camping, making tea and staying up to talk. The urgency and the defiance of the first few days are lost. Millions are flooding the square, but the clear intention of rebellion is not as clear any more. There are more chants, and more slogans. There are many more signs condemning the regime and its symbols. There are people singing and drumming improvised rhyming couplets about the falling government. But the spark is not as intent in the eyes.
By the entrances and inside the square, there are a number of young men selling Egyptian flags of different sizes, and head bands and even big velvety hats in red, black and white. A friend of mine compares this atmosphere to going to the stadium to support national soccer games. I have never been, so I don’t know what that feels like. But I don’t like what I am seeing. This doesn’t look like going to demonstrate, and support the popular rebellion, it feels like  a very crowded street fair.
Yesterday, (Tuesday Feb 8th) an estimated four million people came to the square. It was soooooooo crowded by the main entrance by Kasr El Nil Bridge. To enter men had to stand in a very long line that reached almost a kilometer in length. Women had a shorter line, but everyone was squished in as they entered, and even as they exited a few hours later. Next to the hardcore demonstrators, there are many new faces. Some came because they are curious, and some because they changed their mind after watching the interview of Wael Ghonim, who was just released after 12 days of being abducted by the ……………..and interrogated.
Wael appeared on a late night talk show, that millions watched on Monday night, and millions more watched on Tuesday morning. He was very real, very moving and touched the hearts of Egyptians. A cousin of mine called me to say he cried and cried when he heard Wael, and added that he is going to take his daughters to Tahrir that day. Another friend said that her husband, who was against the demonstrators and accused them of being traitors who are destroying the economy, changed his mind after seeing this young man who sincerely loves his country speak with such passion and candor about change. He too went to the demonstrations on Tuesday.
((You can watch the interview with translation on you tube
As much as I am joyous to see all these voices unite in calling for change and asking the president to step down, as much as I fear for the budding revolution. News about strikes in many other parts of Egypt reveal that the domino effect is not just in other Arab countries, but within this country, affecting many of its various corrupt institutions, which is a great sign of change.
On the other hand the Vice President’s latest comments and responses are very troubling. In a meeting with some of the young activists Mr. Omar Soliman said “The President will not leave, forget about that.” In an interview with ABC news he declared that “Egypt is not ready for democracy.” Yesterday he stated that “this is not a revolution, it’s a coup” and today he noted that “he is running out of patience.” This is a government that easily kills its own people and then claims that they don’t know who did it. I fear for the young people who took over Tahrir Square are full of passion and the desire to change, but they are not a match to the political skills of Soliman who negotiated peace treaties between warring Palestinian factions. I believe in the power of the people and I know the youth in the square have already changed history, but I am deeply concerned about their safety, as they started branching out of the square, occupying the streets outside the parliament, and planning a march toward the presidential palace on Friday.
My attempts to connect people from different groups the last couple of days were not very successful. But late last night, I heard that a coalition was formed consisting from representatives of the different groups of activists around the square, in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood, Wael Ghonim and a couple of other independent activists. I am happy to hear about this coalition, and I am pleased it is including the Muslim Brotherhood. They are present in the Square and all over the country, yet they have been banned from participating in the political life or forming an official political party. If we are going to create a true democracy, all the players have to participate in the political debate in a healthy way, this will benefit the whole country.
Today I thought of creating a TV for the revolution, to broadcast news, interviews and stories from the square. As well as educate the people in the square about the legal matters and tricky political and constitutional issues currently under discussion. I’m in conversation with a few friends discussing what to do and how to do it. Will keep you posted on
Keep sending prayers to Egyptian Revolution of light. May peace and justice prevail.


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  2. Are you Egyptian? I am Egyptian too.

    You know, before the revolution, when people ask me where are you from? I say; I am from Egypt. Most of them go like "really you are lucky." " You land is a holy land." "I would like to visit your country."" My dream in life is to visit Egypt."
    And I used to say in my head okay I believe that they are thinking about the history of Egypt, which they learn in school. I wasn’t really proud to be Egyptian. Sorry to say that but that is how I felt. I felt that way because I felt that Egyptians are not respected in Egypt. Always in Egypt the Foreigner teacher or doctor or .... is treated better and getting paid better than us Egyptian. I mean "3oad El Khuaga" Moreover, when the Egyptian mother was killed in Germany in their court the Egyptian government at that time did not say anything. When the Egyptian doctors were whipped and been in prison in Saudi Arabia the government had no comment on that either.
    I really felt very bad about it. I felt that Egyptians are not protected or respected enough by Egypt. Dr Ahmed Zewail who keeps Egypt in his heart all the time, could not build the Technology research institute that he dreamed of for Egypt, because the leaders back then in Egypt did not help him to do so. I felt that Egypt is an old man who used to be great 10,000 years ago but not anymore.
    However after the revolution, I saw how great Egyptians are and how modern we are. I was really happy when I saw regular people cleaning their streets and organizing the traffic and protecting their homes and the Egyptian National Museum. I saw a group of very moderate people protesting peacefully for their rights. I saw how great we are even without one leader who organizes the crowd. Egyptians were organized, peaceful, and Modern protestors. I know there were some bad things that happen during this great and legendary revolution. However, people who meant harm to Egypt did these things. Those people are not true Egyptians. I saw public figures are standing in streets calling for their country freedom. I was even happier by the way the revolutions ended. It was very democratic and modern. It was not easy to earn but we Egyptians earned the right way.
    Thanks God, then Egyptian for that.
    Now, I feel very proud that I am Egyptian. Now, I know that Egyptians are really special people and I am happy to be one of them.