I went to Tahrir Square today to see what things were like. Here's a photo of traffic circulating around the Square. There were no protesters when I was there in the late morning and there was a heavy military presence with soldiers urging any groups of young men on the sidewalk to keep walking. The feeling was tense, very different from the feeling there just three days ago during the protests when one felt free to express political opinions freely and photography was welcome.
The Mugamma, the large government office building at the left of the photo below, was reopened yesterday.There were still a few military vehicles parked on side streets next to the square, including this tank (below) that Egyptians were posing in front of with a soldier.
I walked past a group of 50-100 men outside a building with signs. The Egyptians I was walking with said this was a strike of workers at an Electric Company. They were seeking higher wages.
While in a cafe, a protest went by in the street. We went outside to see a group of several hundred people passing by in the road behind the blue truck (see below).
The protesters were police officers. The police were protesting yesterday too. I was told today the police were marching to mourn the people who had died in the protests and to say that they were with the people. They were chanting, "the police and the people, hand in hand." Here's a video clip of the end part of their protest.
Here's the link for this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04YjivgwggA
I've been speaking with Egyptians each day to learn their perspectives on the protests and the transitions post-Mubarak. Here is what one young man had to say.
This video is also available at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMeg7xCdLPU
As I was headed back to Tahrir Square, I saw these women posing in front of a tank. I offered to take their photo with their camera so they could all be in the photo and I took a photo with my camera too.
I found another group of police officer protesters at another intersection. The young man in the photo below spoke English and was happy to speak with me to explain more about why they were protesting. He said one of the main concerns was that there were many police officers who were still missing. This officer said there were 2,050 police officers who were either dead or missing because of the events of the last few weeks. He wants to know what happened to his fellow officers. Their families don't know where they are and they aren't answering their cell phones. This officer also said they were marching because they wanted to tell the people that they were with the people and that the things that happened during the protests were only because the Ministry of Interior had ordered them to do what they did.
When I got to Tahrir Square on the way home, I saw people painting the railings around the Square.
Below is my conversation with one man who was painting. When I approached him to ask if he spoke English, he told me he spoke 5 languages. Here's what he had to say:
This video can be viewed at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkzmnyl19yY
In addition to the painters in the Square, there were also many protesters by the time I returned in mid-afternoon. There were several hundred, maybe more, in the center of the Square who the TV journalists said were there protesting against the police, and there was a group of several hundred police officer protesters come down the road into the Square.
Here's a short video of the police protest coming into the Square.
Here is the link for this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCZvIxmoWo0
Some people have asked me if Cairo is back to normal. The answer would be yes and no. The four tanks that had been parked near the police station in our neighborhood for the past two weeks have left. The curfew is still in place but starts at midnight now so doesn’t really affect our life since we’re never out that late here. 99% of the stores in our neighborhood are open as are the banks. There are no food shortages in our community. The metro is working with even the Tahrir Square metro stop open now.
But things are nothing like they were in other fundamental ways. There is a political consciousness and intense interest in political developments that is new. There is a hopefulness and intense pride that emanates from Egyptians when they talk about their revolution. When you tell them “Mabruck” (congratulations) on the street, their faces light up.
There is also a hopeful anticipation, occasionally expressed as worry, about how things will unfold. Will the military really meet the demands of the revolution as they said in their first communiqué? Will the many political prisoners be released? Will the Emergency Law be lifted and if so, when? What will the revised constitution look like? Will the many strikes that are erupting cripple the economy? Will the tourists come back along with the millions of dollars that tourism contributes to the economy? If the protesters don’t think the demands are being met and if they then take to the streets again, will the Military allow peaceful protests again? Will the freedom and democracy that is hoped for result in lifting many Egyptians out of poverty? Only time can tell.
But still, in only three days, much has been accomplished: resignation of the president, dissolving of Parliament, suspending of the constitution, and a promise of democratic elections by September. Most Egyptians seem to want to give the Military time to show what they will do. There is a greater sense of security and trust since the Military is so highly respected and well-loved in this country.
One disturbing development I just heard on the news is that Presidential candidate Ayman Nour, a member of one of the opposition parties, recently had an attack on his life when several members of the security forces, one armed with a knife, came at him. Other Egyptians separated these men from Mr. Nour and he escaped unharmed.