2 February 2011
From yesterday’s uplifting, peaceful and joyful protest to today’s cynical atrocities in Tahrir Square, there’s not much to report that’s different from what you see on the news.
Last night we stayed up late to listen to Mubarak’s message and to Obama’s address. Too little, too late was the consensus after Mubarak had finished speaking. I thought Obama got the US message about right. It is not for the US to say directly what another country’s leader should do. (I realize this may sound naive, but I am not a political scientist). My Egyptian friends expected something stronger… In the end it all comes down to what Obama means by now, as in “change must start now.”
Having stayed up late, we rose late too. At breakfast, which was before noon, we realized the Internet was back on. Euphoria. Jubilation. And not just from the children who left their ful (beans) and cheese to post on Facebook. We are connected again… And I don’t have to type these messages with two thumbs on an iphone. I telephoned Antony to tell him to book his flight back.
I then rang round to my colleagues — What did they think about the events of Tuesday? Of Mubarak’s speech? It was evenly split — some were prepared to wait until Mubarak’s orderly departure in September. Others felt things had progressed too far and that he had to leave right away. Apparently within families there is disagreement about what is best for Egypt.
Egyptians are fiercely proud of their country and even more of being Egyptian. In this way they resemble Americans — and differ from Europeans who are much more circumspect about patriotism and nationalism. The sentiment I carried on the placard at the Tahrir protest, “We love Egypt” was met with sincere appreciation — Egyptians love Egypt and they want others to appreciate their country.
The afternoon television brought terrible images of violence where we had walked so happily yesterday. It is clear that the pro-government activists are hired thugs. Until their appearance (which reports indicate they were paid for), the demonstrations had been relatively peaceful.
My feelings swung the other way — perhaps it is time to go as it is difficult to predict what the coming days will bring.
Everyone is worried. No one knows what will happen. The return of the internet and the pushing back of the curfew brings more normalcy – but still the economy is at a standstill.
The rest of the day passed with normal activities — preparations for lunch, games of Monopoly, and email catch up.
A communication holds hope that work will resume as normal on Sunday. But it doesn’t feel normal. The psychological strain is evident in shortened tempers.
My friends are discussing going to the protests tomorrow to show solidarity with the protesters. My daughter and I won’t go. There were attacks on foreigners today and while my presence yesterday may have been seen as supportive, after today’s clashes, it would only be interference.