Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January 30, 2011

Today people were out and it was peaceful in Dokki. There were reports of looting, but for the most part neighbors have protected neighbors setting up barricades and neighborhood watches, armed with clubs and knives. Our bowab (doorman) was out all night holding a big scrap of mettle to use as a staff. This same type of collective responsibility and proactive measures can also be seen in the streets where the rally points are. This is a distinct break from the government propaganda papers here saying “There are protests and chaos in all corners of the state, steeling, and looting continue in the absence of security [forces].” (Al-Ahram) People were stocking up on food and phone cards in my neighborhood. The Metro Supermarket in Dokki was already out of fresh vegetables and bread by noon. Rations were put on products by the supermarket so there was a chance for more people to get food and supplies. Tonight there have been reports of queues of people waiting to buy bread and petrol.

Regular people were directing traffic in Gala’a square in Dokki, as I walked to the bridge to go Downtown. The army is now set up on the outskirts of the square, allowing people to enter in an orderly manner, instead of being in the square with protesters standing on top of the tanks, as yesterday. A helicopter was in the air circling the square, but the military was not stopping anyone from protesting.

On the streets there were families, and in rallies there was high morale. Children were often marching with their family in the front groups marching into the square. People from all walks of life could be seen in the streets. Tahrir square has become more diverse in the people taking place. While Friday night it was very youthful at the frontline against police, today there were many older people. More Islamists were out in the street (not trying to cause problems or make a power grab), as well as major opposition figures. Ibrahim Eissa, the editor of El-Dostor was leading chants and reports were coming in tonight showing that Mohammed El-Baradai has entered the square to speak. Every cluster of people standing and marching around the square was shouting slogans such as:

“Go away! Go away! Go away!”


“He will go, we won’t go”


“The People want the fall of the regime”

There were also placards denouncing the reshuffle of power as no real change and signs denouncing America’s money that has aided the police and Egyptian policy in general. Here are a few of the many signs around the square:

“Leave Mubarak”

“[the people want] the thugs fall”

“Wir Wollen Kein Mofizo”

“The people want a civilian government”

A group of Muslim Mu’alam spoke saying, “Muslims, Christians, and Jews are all one people. The Egyptian people are all one people in cooperation against this government… [the speaker was drowned out by crowd and my translator Amr couldn’t hear any more].

Amr also told me that the “tear gas was expired and lasted in the air longer than normal, two days rather than one hour. ” I have heard no reports on this. He also said, “I like Hillary Clinton.” He talked about how her message was correct. This is obviously her latest message he is referring to. This message has changed many times in the last week, from, “The government is stable,” to, “we have told him [that his style of rule is not conducive to democracy or prosperity] for 30 years. What a farcical memory of history. Those tear gas canisters may have been expired, but they were not 30 years old.

I also had many people tell me similar messages to another thing Amr said: “Al-Jazeera and the American media are lying. They aren’t in the streets. They are focusing on the other buildings, not where the people are.”

People in the square were looking out for each other. Individuals were handing out food. I witnessed a man with a trash bag of water bottles and another bag full of kosheri, which he was handing out to people. There was also a duk-duk full of bags of nuts being handed out. People seem fully prepared to stay and defy curfew for another night. Many people were camping in tents and hanging out in the muddy grass of the square.

One man came up to me and said, “We want the military to come in temporarily and set up a democratic process.” This is definitely not the opinion of everyone. Many are skeptical of the final outcome of the military, which is undeniably popular and by many seen as heroes for coming into the streets and allowing the protests, as the police fled. Some people wrote “No Mubarak” on the ground and people stood over it and waved as the helicopter flew over. As this happened, F-16 fighter jets started buzzing the square, one time so low you could see the red of the flames coming out as it flew by. Every fly over made the chants more sever and focused. During these flyovers, one man told me “Tell Obama to stop this. These are all made in the USA. I will say this in every language I know: go away!” (This very passionate man continued saying “go away” in many languages.) A few men came up and told me to make sure this was “published on-line for America to hear.” They are deeply disturbed by Obama being one step ahead but two (or more) steps behind in every speech

There is no telling at the moment what the military’s role is going to be in the end, but at the moment they have certainly remained peaceful and have refused to fire on protesters. I hope continue on this path. Sitting at home now, I am worried by the reports coming in that that the police will be back tomorrow. Hopefully the military doesn’t leave. They have been much better than the police. I fear they will pull out and there will be further violence. Tonight there are reports of more leaflets being handed out asking people not to squander the deaths of those who have died, and to not give a pretext for a crackdown. It listed 14 legitimate parties. The NDP is certainly not included.


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