Tag Archives: black bloc

Front row seat in Cairo

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Protesters marching, chanting and dancing down Mohammed Farid Street in Cairo in front of my hotel tonight.

I didn’t plan it ….. but I ended up in Cairo on the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolution that toppled Mubarak.  Or should I say the second revolution that toppled President Morsi?  

A few Egyptians I’ve talked with think the Army will restore order and throw out Morsi.  BBC suggests a military coup might be on the horizon.  And tonight we hear on TV that Morsi is traveling to Germany tomorrow.  Bad timing on his part.  Now there is speculation that the coup might happen when he is out of the country.

Facebook and Twitter are strange venues for watching the current events in Egypt, but that’s where I’m getting most of my information.  And from hotel guests who venture out to Tahrir.

The TV is usually turned to the local Arabic channels.  It’s more important that the Egyptian hotel staff have access to the news and the foreign guests respect that.  The local English newspapers are interesting but not helpful for keeping abreast of the rapidly changing events.

The big western hotel near the US Embassy was attacked by thugs yesterday.  The few guests that were still there have been evacuated.

I avoided Tahrir Square today where most of the clashes are occurring between demonstrators and the Army.  Last night an army vehicle was “captured” and torched in Tahrir.  Pictures of young protesters and Black Bloc members dancing near the burning vehicle were posted on Twitter and made me think of Lord of the Flies.

Facebook “friends” have been sharing their thoughts about the unrest in Egypt.  Some support President Morsi; some think he’s merely a puppet for the US and IMF; some believe there must be outside provocateurs agitating things here with the intent of overthrowing Morsi; and some are cheering the demonstrators on.

Most of Cairo is unaffected by the unrest.  Families are walking on the streets window-shopping, vendors are selling their items on the sidewalks, stores are open.  Men are sitting in the alley smoking sheesha. I visited a bookstore today and bought Naguib Mahfouz’s The Cairo Trilogy and Alaa Al Aswany’s Chicago.

Unlike the excitement I felt in January 2011 watching the revolution from my couch in Albuquerque, I feel a sense of sadness today.  I’ll explain that sadness tomorrow.

 

 

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An Inconvenient Truth

The hotel staff ran to the balcony this afternoon in Cairo and I wondered if the protests from Tahrir Square had moved to “my” neighborhood.   It was raining!   They were very happy to see the rain, a rare occurrence in Cairo I’m told.

The TV news has been running non-stop coverage of the protesters, the tear gas, President Morsi’s announcement of a curfew, and other stories about the current unrest.

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One local paper carried a story today about the Black Bloc and other groups involved in the demonstrations.

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Since I don’t understand Arabic, I must rely on what English-speaking Egyptians tell me about the situation.  

Some are saddened about this recent turn of events (ie. the protests turning violent).  Others seem frustrated that the economy has not improved in the past 2 years (tourism is down 50-70% I’m told) and they blame President Morsi.  A few have mentioned that they oppose the great influence that the Muslim Brotherhood has in the government now.  One person mentioned corruption.  Many people don’t have hope for the future.  

This is, of course, a very small, informal poll.  The opinions represent the educated electorate who are employed and speak English.

Every Egyptian I’ve talked with in Cairo say they oppose President Morsi.   I haven’t found a single person who supports him.  Some are willing to give him time to improve things, others want him to go now!

I’m hoping that peace is restored and Egyptians give their first democratically-elected president some time.   I know zilch about President Morsi’s policies, and I have no clue whether he is “good” or “bad” for the Egyptian people.   But he was fairly ELECTED, and no one has contested the election as far as I can tell.   Egyptians need to give themselves (as much as Morsi) some time to understand and appreciate the importance of the electoral process.

Every young person throwing stones in Tahrir Square today should be sitting in a civics class instead.  They should be preparing for the next election in 3 years.  And political parties of all stripes  should be engaging  Egyptians in serious discussions about the future of their country.

There is so much potential here.  In a lively bazaar this morning I found 20-30 stalls selling books (used and new).  I bet Al Gore would be very pleased to see a copy of his book about climate change — “An Inconvenient Truth”  on the shelf here and right next to the stall was a young man selling CFL light bulbs!

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Please give this young man and his CFL light bulbs some time!

 

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Filed under Egypt, Elections