Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update on Tahrir Clashes

Sabah al-eshtebaakaat! Good morning of the clashes!

My classes have been cancelled for the day, since clashes between protesters and the police are still going on, and their focal point is right outside the gate to the American University of Cairo, where I take classes.  Last night, Egyptians came out throwing rocks and chanting anti-police slogans - numbers are hard to peg, but I'd say they probably got to 3000, although no more than 4-5000.  As morning crept in, protesters slugged home, leave perhaps a few hundred in the corner of the square by AUC.  There seems to be a sort of a stalemate at the moment, with protesters unable to do more than hurl sidewalk tiles, and the police defending the Ministry of the Interior, but not advancing.  They police have been given orders by the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) to stop, so perhaps that explains their halt, or they just don't have the manpower to take all of Tahrir.  Either way, that is where things stand as of this morning, with clouds of tear gas billowing around Tahrir as the rest of Cairo goes on its daily hustle & bustle.

I gathered some of this from my friend Chris, who bravely/foolishly went to Tahrir this morning, as well as Twitter (#Tahrir) and some other bloggers.  Part of me - the part that painted peace signs and bussed down to DC to protest the invasion of Iraq and did cartwheels in front of Westover Air Force Base - is dying to go down there, just to be witness.  The revolutionary spirit gives me the jitters, raises the hair on my arms, brings tears to my eyes.  I want Egypt to succeed so badly, to flourish into whatever peaceful and providing country Egyptians want it to be.  But I know it is not my fight, and I know I would not feel safe or comfortable being there right now - Chris said he got some critical looks, perhaps as a result of all the expired tear gas canisters with "Made in the USA" written on them.  Plus I want to respect the wishes of my friends and family to stay away.

Power to the people, yes, but I don't see the utility in these spontaneous clashes, in and of themselves, since no unified message is being broadcasted and violence is reigning.  I see the reasons behind them: people angry about the martyrs' postponed trials, frustrated with SCAF's lack of progress or transparency and their crackdown on dissenters, and fearful of the revolution and the constitution being hijacked.  Their value will be apparent in coming weeks, I hope, in re-rallying the populace to make noise about the stagnation.  Those extremely active in the hopping Egyptian left and those doing the most rabble-rousing are a small segment of Egypt's 80 million.  I hope these protests serve to mobilize other Egyptians to come out to protests July 8th in Tahrir and around the country and keep the pressure on SCAF, politicians from the old system, and nascent political representatives, too.

I would just like to emphasize that Cairo is huge, and in my neighborhood, life continues without sign of police or tear gas.  My program will likely air on the side of caution, so I don't expect to be in Tahrir any time soon.  I am being careful.  Check out the links I've included here: I would read them over any Western sources any day!

Keep Egypt in your thoughts,



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  2. On NPR this morning, after news of clashes outside the Greek parliament to protest a move to vote more austerity measures to prevent Athens defaulting on its debt and in London for similar reasons, a brief mention of crowds clashing with police in Tahrir Square more intense than any since the overthrow of Mubarek and tear gas being used. That's it for now. Proud of you -- Pops & Mama U

  3. I love you!!! Thanks for these post I am learning a lot. I shall post more insightful comments once I catch up with the news :)