Travel Map

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 16


Having not attended the protests in the last few days I didn’t feel I had much to contribute in the way of “news” as I am obtaining information in the same way the rest of the world is.  I did go out into Maadi yesterday, however, and was greeted with a “things as usual” feeling in the street.   Plenty  of traffic, foot and vehicle, and the pre-protests cat calls have returned.  Sitting in a café it was hard to remember that anything was going on in greater Cairo.  There were tons of young people, the very hip crowd with their leggings and Uggs, laptops and the like, and they were laughing and taking pictures of each other as if nothing different was taking place.  Maybe it’s not:

In this latest rendering, with Suleiman at the helm, the state's objective of restoring a structure of rule by military managers is not even concealed. This sort of "orderly transition" in post-Mubarak Egypt is more likely to usher in a return to the repressive status quo than an era of widening popular participation.

This article in Foreign Affairs by Joshua Stacher is an interesting take on the situation; it seems pretty realistic.  The gist of the article is that Mubarak is using his regime to play good cop/bad cop in order to maintain control.  Indeed it was easy to see that he tried to quell the protests that first Friday, the 28th of January, with his police force.  Then he withdrew the police and criminals “escaped” from jail and the citizens of Cairo were left to fend for themselves against the “bultagaya” (thuggery).  Still the protesters continued their vigil in Tahrir so the police returned, if only for a day.  Then they disappeared again and suddenly, there were thousands of “pro-Mubarak” supporters in the streets attacking the peaceful pro-democracy protesters.

State tv seems to be doing it’s job as well, as many people who have not attended the protests or left their houses in 2 weeks are calling, “Enough!” to the protests.  State tv is indicating that these “delinquents” are causing all of the problems in Egypt- the bultagaya, the loss of business, the emergency law, the price hikes, all a result of the protesters who, did you know, are all agents of foreign governments attempting to control Egypt?  Not everyone watching state tv believes what they are hearing, thank God, but the influence is strong enough for people to try to call an end to the stalemate.  If I had stayed in my house for 16 days, lost money in the stock exchange, was unable to get money from the bank, was the victim of price increases on staples like food and petrol, and was influenced to believe that this was all a result of the people in Tahrir, then I too would want an end to it all, a return to “normal.” Perhaps there is a bit of Stockholm Syndrome at work…

However, as of yesterday, as this picture from Al Jazeera illustrates, there are many people in Cairo that are willing to fight for this much-needed change:



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