Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My friends reporting from Cairo, 8 February 2011.

After I returned from Egypt, I cannot report from Egypt in person, but I keep staying touch with my friends, here is what they report from Cairo today. From tomorrow, I hope to be able to publish posts by my colleague in Egypt.

The new day of demonstrations in Cairo is very successful, proving wrong reports by international media claiming that the democracy movement has “lost its momentum”. In the afternoon, Tahrir square is full. People on all entrances queue up and find it difficult to enter. Queues for both men and women over 100m on Talat Harb street. Protesters have now surrounded the buildings of both People’s Assemby (lower house) and Shura Council (upper house) in down-town Cairo. And most recently, the demonstrators are now also surrounding the television centre in Maspiro.

Today, there have been many people demonstrating in Tahrir square who had not dared go out in the past two weeks out of fear of violence. Their contribution is a sign of the continuing dynamics of the revolution, but has also caused some slight tensions with those demonstrators who have been in Tahrir for more than a week and have made often heavy sacrifices in that time.

My colleague spoke with one of the new demonstrators: “Just met an English teacher, 50, on Tahrir sq. He decided to participate in a street protest for the first time in his life, after seeing Ghoneim's televised interview last night. He and the whole family had cried watching it. He earns some 140 EUR/month (pretty well for a teacher in Egypt) but finds it impossible to make ends meet. He was 20 when Mubarak came into power and today, finally, came out to say: Enough!”

The televised interview with the activist and Google employee Wael Ghoneim who had been arrested for 12 days and was released yesterday, has given a lot of new credibility to the democracy movement. You can see it here:
http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2011/2/8/egypt-video-the-interview-with-wael-ghonim-i-want-to-tell-fa.html
In general, there is some movement in the Egyptian media. The daily al-Ahram newspaper, until now very close to the government, has also now clearly sided with the pro-democracy movement. The editorial staff of Rose Al-Youssouf newspaper, a de fact organ of the secret police and security apparatus, is in strike against the kind of reporting they have been forced to do lately.

The revolution continues...

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