Wednesday, March 2, 2011

School resumes & army says demands will be met

My classes at American University in Cairo have started up again.  Egyptian elementary and high schools opened on February 26 and universities are scheduled to open on March 5.  

I'm quite excited about the classes I'm taking this semester:  one course on human rights in the Middle East, another about comparative constitutional law and an independent study about human rights in Africa.  Needless to say, the conversations are fascinating these days.

Many foreign students have returned to Cairo now, and I learned quite a few foreign students were here throughout the revolution.  Here is a video I did of one AUC student who recently returned to Cairo:
Here's the link for the video if you have difficulty viewing it on the blog:

Meanwhile, everyone is waiting and watching to see what progress is made in Egypt.  The Armed Forces periodically send text messages to the public with updates.  Here's one message I got two weeks ago:
I asked one of my Arabic speaking classmates to translate it for me.  Here's the translation:

"The Council understands your demands and we have assigned the appropriate agencies to meet these demands in a timely way."

This is an interesting phenomenon.  (I wish Obama would send me a text message saying all my political demands would be met!)  There is definitely progress:  Mubarak is gone, Parliament has been dissolved, several former ministers have been arrested because of corruption, travel bans have been issued for Mubarak and numerous people associated with him, steps are being taken to try to have the billions worth in assets owned by the Mubaraks returned to Egypt, a Constitutional Committee was appointed to propose (within 10 days) amendments that would allow fair elections, and the Constitutional Committee did indeed proposed amendments within 10 days (see upcoming blog entry on proposed constitutional changes.)  I've also heard there is some progress being made with political detainees being released, though many are still reportedly detained.  

But protesters want to keep the pressure on the government because so much is still being determined and some demands are still not met:  e.g., the ministers who are the equivalent a U.S. cabinet are all people appointed by Mubarak; the Emergency Law still remains in effect, there are still political detainees, and major revisions or a rewrite of the constitution are still hoped by many.    

Here are the front pages stories from a couple Egyptian newspapers in the past week showing the continuing protests:
Newspaper front page from Saturday, February 26, 2011.
Newspaper front page from today, Tuesday, March 1, 2011.

Here's a link to today's article about the protest at the scheduled reopening of Egypt's Stock Exchange.'s%20stock%20reopening
The Stock Exchange has been closed for 5 weeks after protests at the end of January caused it to drop by almost 17%.

Meanwhile, opposition candidates such as Ayman Nour and Mohammed ElBaridi are saying that  Egypt's presidential elections need more time than the 6 months now planned to get ready, both advocating 12-18 months to insure that opposition parties have adequate time to organize for a fair election.  Here's a link to an article discussing Nour's position.'Egypt%20needs%20more%20time%20for%20transition'

I've been doing informal polling of various Egyptians I've met and am struck by how I get a different answer from just about every person I ask about who they would support for president.  I'm starting to see what Nour and ElBaridi are talking about regarding more time being needed.  It seems the only party with a well-organized infrastructure now is Mubarak's party.

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