Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 6, 2011: Cairo Protests Day 13

Thousands of Anti-Mubarak protesters remain in Tahrir Square on this 13th day of protest.  Reports from square say things have been peaceful today and were apparently peaceful during last night as well.  I talked to a Egyptian man on the street today who has been going to the Square every day and says it made him proud to be Egyptian.
Below are some photos I took from today's news reports about the protests and other events.
There are a couple CNN reporters who have been interviewing people on the ground in Cairo's Tahrir Square.  This woman has been reporting nonstop, even when things have been very difficult for journalists.  
She and another journalist report that Tahrir Square protesters say they are prepared to stay in the Square as long as it takes to achieve their primary demand.  They have established some infrastructure in the Square such as an 'clinic', people providing food, and runners going to buy any needed medicines from pharmacies.

Protesters are camping in the Square night after night.

Here's the sign marking the clinic at Tahrir Square.
Here are a couple photos of people getting medical assistance at the clinic.

There are still people of all walks of life in the Square, all ages, men and women.

Below is a photo of Muslims praying in Tahrir Square today.
One interesting development today in the Square was that Egyptian Christians (Coptics) and Muslims had joined hands, were holding up Bibles and Qur'ans, and praying and singing together.  This type of unity is inspiring for many here.  
People were holding up crosses and Bibles and Qur'ans.

The CNN reporters also showed a pile of rocks, saying they were possibly stacked to use in self-defense if anyone seeks to attack the protesters.  It was interesting though that later in the day I saw a video showing rocks arranged to make a political message that could be viewed from above.
Another development today was that protesters in the Square had formed a chain, sitting and linking arms, to prevent more military tanks from entering the Square.  While the military has been well-loved by Egyptian people, recent events seem to have caused some concern about what role the military may play in the future.  
Outside of Tahrir Square, government banks opened for three hours today to find long lines of customers in some places.  (See photo below).  In our community though, at least one bank has been open for days so we haven't had any trouble withdrawing money.  Jeff saw a good-sized crowd gathered in front of another bank in our neighborhood that just opened today after being closed for a week.

Bank line in Cairo.
Another development is that representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood met with Egypt's Vice President today.   
Egypt's newly appointed Vice President, Omar Suleiman.
The Muslim Brotherhood got 20% of the popular vote in 2005, obtaining 34 of Parliaments 454 seats (while they already had approximately that many seats, thereby doubling their representation).   Below is a link to a New York Times article about the Brotherhood.  It says that the Brotherhood has about 100,000 members out of Egypt's population of 80 million.

For anyone who would like a little more information about the Brotherhood, I would point out that they are not a violent group.  They renounced violence years ago, favoring involvement in the political process instead. They were banned as political party years ago so that even in 2005 they had to run as independents.   One of the things the Muslim Brotherhood is known for in Egypt is running health clinics, providing drinking water or setting up educational programs to help kids in school.  

Neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor any political party is credited with organizing the recent Anti-Mubarak demonstrations.  The anti-Mubarak movement is very grassroots, sometimes criticized for not having leadership at all.  When I spoke to the woman in the photo below in Tahrir Square last week, she said "We are not a political party!  We are not the Muslim Brotherhood!  We are Egyptian People!"
Though the Muslim Brotherhood met with the Vice-President, Mr. ElBaradi (see photo below), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and others from the opposition, have said there will be no meeting with government officials with the current President in power.  This is the position of the protesters in Tahrir Square.  
ElBaradi, one of those from Egypt's opposition to the current government.

On a personal note, our son's school reopened today, though many children were absent.  It will be open full-time from now on, with a slight change in hours, starting a little earlier and ending a little earlier, perhaps to accommodate possible changes in the curfew.  The current curfew is 7pm which allows enough time for errands to be done during the day, but is taking a toll on businesses.  Many restaurants are still closed, I assume primarily because of the curfew. 

Things seemed less tense walking around today.  With the government banks reopening today, I expect more businesses will open, little by little.  

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