Thursday, January 27, 2011

#Jan25

My heart goes out to Egypt today.

Last March, shortly before we left Egypt, Mubarak got sick. Of course, the word on the street was that he had gone on a little "vacation." Luckily, we had access to international news and it didn't take us long to confirm that he had gone to Europe for gallbladder surgery (with rumors of more). While he was recuperating we had several conversations with people about what would happen if he died while we were there. I feared the political unrest. Would there be a military takeover? Would his son start ruling in his stead? What would happen?

I'm glad I'm not there because I'm stressed out enough from here.

Andrew, on the other hand, yearns to be part of something historical, something revolutionary. He wants to be there to see it happen.

In all our discussions about "what would happen if Mubarak died" we never once suggested that perhaps Mubarak wouldn't die—perhaps there'd be a national uprising against the government. I don't see why we didn't think of that. Egyptians are passionate enough, brave enough, oppressed enough—and here they are, making it happen.

At least, I hope they are making it happen.

I've been watching the #Jan25 feed on twitter every spare moment I get since, well, January 25th, watching things unfurl. Now, though, the government has plunged the country into a media blackout: there's no internet, no cell phone service, no contact with the outside world...for anyone.

Like I said, I'm glad I'm not there because I'm stressed out enough about it from here.

It's so hard not knowing what is going on. Seeing pictures of Midan Tahrir swarming with people, police, tear gas, and anger and recognizing landmarks is rather surreal. I've used that metro stop. I've been to the restaurant. I let my girls run amok on that sidewalk. There's the Egyptian Museum, AUC campus, the mugama. We have so many happy memories of the place that it doesn't seem possible for it to be taken over with an angry mob.

Once, my brother and I tried to catch a taxi from Midan Tahrir to the Khan, during ramadan—we couldn't because the area was mia'b'mia empty. There were no cars or people as far as the eye could see. That, itself, was odd because Tahrir is usually bustling. We took a minute to meander on the square—in the middle of the road—just because we could, while we tried to figure out the best way to find a cab.

That calm, peaceful evening is such a contrast to the pictures I've seen of people lining the streets, praying, shouting, walking, fighting—thronging, thronging, thronging—trying to pressure the government to give it up and get out.

I'm not sad that the people are revolting because I think change is definitely necessary and since Mubarak has been rooted to his presidential throne for the past thirty years it's obvious he wasn't the way they were going to get change. However, it makes me sad that people are getting hurt, people are dying.

I'm worried about what's going on right now. I'm worried about the tear gas and the fires and the guns—because the tear gas and the fires and the guns are being used by one group of people and it isn't the protestors using them. I'm worried because I don't know what's going to happen.

The Egypt I know doesn't exist anymore.

I wonder what the new Egypt is going to be like.

When we finally get word from Egypt will it be announcing the ouster of Mubarak? If so, congratulations, and I hope a better system of governance is put in place. If not, I fear he'll be more oppressive than ever (due to his dousing of the internet today it seems he'll come down with an iron-fist and not butterflies and rainbows).

What will it be when we go back? Will we recognize anything? Will the people be happier? Richer? Better fed and less prone to petty thievery?

There will always be the Nile, of course, and the pyramids, khamseen, freak hail storms, the call to prayer, Ramadan lanterns, roasted sweet potatoes, koshari, glorious sunsets. Surely those things will always be there.

I'm happy to be missing this but I wish I was there. I'm a little bit homesick.

My heart goes out to Egypt today.

4 comments:

  1. Well said. It is so strange to think about the places we went to and what is happening there now. I truly hope some good comes out of this struggle.

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  2. I've been thinking of you guys as all this has been going on. I wish my best, also.

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  3. Hugs to you, Nancy. I've been watching how things have been going through Twitter and Facebook (WHERE are the national news networks on this??), and it's both heartbreaking and inspiring. Here's hoping that this revolution turns into something good.

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  4. The internet is out. Cellphones are out, and that includes BB services. It's do-or-die for the regime.

    The uprising started with the call of one of Egypt's biggest facebook groups: "We are all Khaled Saeed" (in Arabic) كلنا خالد سعيد. Khaled Saeed is an Egyptian blogger in Alexandria who posted online a video of police officers distributing the spoils of a drug bust among themselves. He was dragged out of an internet cafe, and beaten to death in a nearby building. Later, police said he "chocked on a roll of weed". Here's his face after he "chocked on a roll of weed": http://tiny.cc/xeqj4

    The Alexandrian police station that killed Khaled Saeed has been burnt down earlier today.

    The military has been deployed in the country, and are being greeted everywhere. They moved on to protect certain buldings like the Egyptian Museum...etc. Thousands of protesters formed a human shield around the Egyptian Museum to protect it from being robbed.

    Mubarak announced he's staying. I can tell you with 100% certainty that won't be the case by the end of next week, if not earlier.

    I would like to make it clear that this is an intellectual uprising -made up mainly of tech savvy youths under 30 with smartphones and facebook accounts, and not a religious one, by any stretch of imagination. This is a peaceful march, with demands for the end of a 30-yr long reign of a corrupt tyrant -a march made violent by 30-year old Egyptian police brutality, protecting and serving a autocratic authoritarian rule. We want equality for all, and most importantly, accountability for all. Egypt is a third world country, when its intellectuals know it shouldn't be.

    As a matter of fact, the Islamist fractions were the only oppositional segments in Egypt who declined from participating in the first 3 days of the uprising; some extremist fractions -like the Alexandrian Salafis- went as far as issuing fatwas that call for oppositional leaders like Elbaradei to be slain for opposing "the ruler". They also issued fatwas that forbid people from "going out against the ruler".

    The Egyptian government have been trying to falsely associate islamists with the uprising in order to get a "Green light" to brutally clamp down on the protesters with live ammunition -which they have already attempted in cities like Suez.

    WARNING Graphic video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCBhBhby9t4

    The Egyptian guards have also hired mercenaries to do their "dirty work", including ripping parts of the city apart in order to justify the use of live ammunition.

    Reports of members of the Mubarak family flying to London have been supplemented by reports of the Egyptian Ambassador in London leaving the embassy to greet "high profile newcomers" at Heathrow airport, last Tuesday. The Big man himself is rumored to have taken a plane from Almaza airport to King Khaled airport in Saudi Arabia.

    We do not want an Islamist government, we do not want another authoritarian. People simply want a self-sustainable and transparent democracy, where everyone is equal in rights, and

    accountability.

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