Thursday, 10 February 2011

Letter from Cairo 9th February 2011

Mass prayers in Liberation Square

More concessions have been made by the government this morning and this includes releasing some 30 political prisoners – mostly members of the Muslim Brotherhood.  This is all like a game of strip poker, where the opposition are disrobing the regime layer by layer.  What will they do when they are down to their underpants?

We have just seen on the news that Omar Soleiman is threatening the Egyptian people saying ‘Either we have dialogue or there will be Martial Law’, now that is very worrying.  However, as a friend of mine has just commented – "And how would he expect to implement it? Using guns against 1.500.000 citizens in Tahrir Square? Setting a 24-hour curfew?" Good question.  But, I don’t think anyone or anything will stop the demonstrators now!  What if there is a repetition of Tiananmen Square?  Is that possible?  So far, the military have been with the people, will they really do a volte face now?

In all my Letters from Cairo, I have tried to remain more or less unbiased but this is becoming increasingly difficult. Firstly there was the violence on Friday 28th, when someone turned on the protestors and here there is much speculation on who and how, although most of us already know the answer to that. Then we had the marauders on the street, again with many rumours and speculation on who and how and, again, many of us know the answers. 

I have just listened to the words of a friend who, like me is a member of the visual and performing arts in Cairo, and I quote “Between poetry, performance, and art, Tahrir Square is evolving into a platform where people can creatively express themselves without the threat of censorship.”

Following this, I was watching the news and seeing the reaction to Italy’s Prime Minister’s sexual activities.  Many people in the street were interviewed and were able to give their opinions, in spite of the fact that Silvio Berlusconi owns a large part of the media.  That is freedom of speech and freedom of the press!  If we had freedom of the press in Egypt, the corruption of the government and the news of the amassed fortunes of Mubarak and his cronies would have been released to the general public much, much sooner. 

Meanwhile, the media blackout in Egypt is beginning to lift as more and more of the state television employees are leaving their jobs.  The protestors in Liberation Square today had a blacklist of members of the state media who they were not allowing into the square, those who they deemed were responsible for helping the government with their censorship, especially during the past 16 days.

The crowd still builds in the square although some of the protestors have moved to the parliament building.  I cannot imagine what this will achieve since, we hope, the regime’s constitution is on it way out.

I have just listened to an analysis by a certain Father Henri Boulad, a Jesuite priest in Alexandria, and he believes that the major instigation for this uprising was that the Muslims of Egypt want to adapt themselves to a modern globalised world – as I said before, the Yuppies of Egypt!

AND WE WAIT!

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