Friday, 4 February 2011

Letter from Cairo 4th February 2011

We are Christians and Muslims and, above all, Egyptians 

Friday 4th January and they are calling it ‘The Day of Departure’.  The atmosphere is almost tangible and I could already feel it when I awoke at dawn.  I went to the Gezira Sporting Club, which is just in front of my building, and worked out for half an hour in the gymnasium and then swam a kilometre in the Olympic pool.  This, to some extent, has brushed off some of the cobwebs.  I have been doing this every morning for a week now – there is little else to do except watch the news with bated breath and keep in contact with the world on Facebook. 

My son, Mika, arrived at our apartment this morning in a very aggressive mood and in fighting spirit.  The government is inciting hostility and belligerence towards foreign journalists and foreigners in general.  Mika, though half Egyptian, is blonde and looks somewhat Nordic and faced several comments and threats on his way from 6th October City to Zamalek.  He is now somewhere among the hundreds and thousands in
Tahrir Square
demonstrating for democracy.  However, since then we have heard that every time a foreigner enters the square loud cheers go up from the protestors.  Those who are behaving in an antagonist manner appear to be some of the illiterate youths who are just listening to the propaganda put out on the television or the radio.  Again, the Egyptian TV is showing nothing of the demonstrations whatsoever and therefore the regime is keeping the population as ignorant as it can. 

For the moment, there seems to be no sign of the Pro-Mubarak thugs who were on the streets fighting the demonstrators for the last two nights.  Nobody understands why they are not there but I believe that it is the sheer volume of protestors that could be keeping them away; well that is what I am hoping.

The atmosphere is becoming more emotive by the minute and our own nerves are completely on edge as we switch from Aljazeera International, to BBC, to Euronews, to CNN, and to French and Italian channels. 

Mubarak is reported to have said that he is tired of being the president but does not want to step down now as this will cause instability!  Could the country be more unstable one asks?  It would be so simple to form a temporary coalition government with the many opposition leaders – can’t he see that?  However, at this point there is still only one thing that most of the Egyptian people want and that is that he step down – nothing else will appease them.

It is now 3.00 p.m. and the square continues to fill and the news continues to flow in.  There is no sign of any violence so far.  The army’s presence is becoming more obvious and they appear to be protecting the demonstrators once again.  

There are, once more, people from all walks of life in the square, regardless of age gender or religion and including some very important people such as Amr Moussa who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Egypt but is now the head of the Arab League.  The Egyptian Grand Mufti is also there and appears to have resigned his post.  A Grand Mufti is the highest official of religious law in a Sunni Muslim country such as Egypt.  There are some beautiful sights, Christians protecting Muslims while they pray, civilians kissing soldiers, children waving their flags while straddled on their fathers' shoulders, strangers smiling at each other, some even hugging and altogether a wonderful atmosphere of solidarity.

Oh God, a crowd of Pro-Mubarak supports are now approaching the edges of
Tahrir Square

and we are praying that the pro-democracy demonstrators will outnumber them; otherwise it will be the deadliest bloodbath. I have spoken to my son on the phone and he says it is beginning to look ugly.  He does have an escape route, however, which is the apartment of a friend near the square.  I just hope that he will use it if and when necessary.

One does wonder what this enormous crowd really wants, apart from the resignation of the president.  There is no sense of ‘What will we do next?’ or ‘What is the way forward if Mubarak does step down?’

Again Mubarak has announced that he wants to step down but fears that the country will fall into chaos – for heaven’s sake man, it already is in chaos.

It’s becoming so difficult for me to write.  I cannot even begin to describe the atmosphere here.  My husband and I are both alternatively, trembling, pacing and wringing our hands, having moments of hope followed by moments of great despair.  When will someone do something sensible to resolve this?

I have many, many friends and acquaintances who are demonstrating and I am praying for them all. 

I have just been watching Egyptian state TV where they are saying that all is quiet and there are only a few demonstrators.  Unbelievable!  They are showing pictures of everything but
Tahrir Square
and saying that things are peaceful all over Egypt; it is pure brain washing and really just shows why so many, many people want to change this regime. 

5.20 p.m. and suddenly Egyptian state TV has shown the pictures of
Tahrir Square

No comments:

Post a Comment