Living Through the Egyptian Revolution: Part 3
In the third post in her amazing series, BingoTheAwesome answers your questions and gives us the down-low on the latest events.—Sparkitors
Once again, I can't thank you all enough for the wonderful responses I've received. There are a couple of questions and comments I'd like to respond to before continuing with updates on recent events:
Comment from sarahthesaltedslug: By the way, Carrefour isn't burned down. I drove past it when I was getting evacuated.
Response: Truedat, poor Carrefoure Maadi! The department store I was talking about is called Makro, though. There's still some speculation as to whether it got burned down completely or just looted. Either way, nice to hear from someone else in Egypt!
To Riverotter: Icepal did indeed answer your question correctly. Egyptian Arabic is pronounced differently than formal Arabic; it's a more casual, easy-going sort of language. And yeah, we do pronounce the "jeem" as "geem," so people who'd be "Jamal" in regular Arabic are called "Gamal" in our language. It's pretty cool you both know so much about Arabic, though!
Question from harlequinFalll: As of yesterday afternoon in America, the news channels over here have pretty much been freaking out about all these journalists (American and international) being attacked in the protests. In typical fashion, our news people have not really been specific about who has been attacking the journalists, and just focus on how personally offended they seem to be. Do you know if these "attackers" are the planted thugs you spoke of?
Answer: Because of the internet ban, there's a time lag in my blogs. So I'm writing about the Friday events on Wednesday, and haven't had a chance to cover events that have happened more recently. But yes, several journalists have been attacked during the riots, and the attackers are definitely not the protestors. On Friday, before the police disappeared, there were accounts of police officers trying to take the reporters' cameras and attacking the cameramen. One BBC reporter got a fine cut on his forehead and a shirt drenched in blood – it made for a very graphic report. It makes me sad that all the reports of violence coming out of Egypt make its citizens seem barbaric, but I want you all to know that the demonstrations are/have been peaceful. It's the government's reaction that isn't.
Question from Loupsicle: Bingo, does Egypt have smiliar gun laws to America? You've mentioned in both your articles your brother/s looking for bullets. Do you own a gun? Do lots of people in Egyptian cities own guns? Or are you an exception and it's a rifle you keep for hunting or something. (Or are you talking about a paint gun, maybe?)
Answer: I'm not really sure what the gun laws are in America, but gun ownership is relatively fair in Egypt. Our gun is licensed, and was bought by my dad a really long time ago (I can't for the life of me remember why, we never really used it). I don't know how many people in the city own guns; only a few of the citizens on neighborhood watches own weapons, and the rest were using sticks, rocks, and brooms to defend themselves.
I hope that answers any questions I received. Once again, thank you to every single person who commented. Your support is amazing.
Now, a re-cap of the events:
Sunday and Monday were uneventful compared to the chaotic stress of Saturday. People became accustomed to the routine of keeping neighborhood watches by night and protesting by day. I remember waking up (at 2 PM, much to my mother's chagrin) and feeling a bit pleased and surprised to find the demonstrators still going strong. The main importance of Sunday was that it brought a strong sense of relief: the army had begun rounding up the prisoners again. About 4,101 were caught, according to some of our news channels (this came as a shock to me; I had no idea so many had escaped), and the neighborhood watches had caught quite a few of the thugs as well, so we were all beginning to feel a little bit safer. The whole, "hide yo kids, hide yo wife" situation had begun getting a little old (even though we had kept ourselves entertained by watching Iron Man 2 and Megamind while staying up to guard the house). By Monday, we were getting—dare I say it?—bored. Nothing was happening. The president had hired his new government, some of whom were actually very respectable men, but we were sure the new regime wouldn't last. The police began returning to the street, to a mixture of applause and hatred; we were still feeling a bit sore at them for their disappearing act, but their absence was the the government's fault, and they now seemed to be behaving cautiously.
I suppose "bored" is a bad word to use to describe our feelings. We were a bit tense, still getting the occasional false alarm ("Have you heard?! They broke into our neighbor's back yard! …oh, wait, they didn't. Sorry.") but we were also a bit restless. The situation was no longer terrifying—I even went over to visit a friend who lived nearby, and it felt oddly normal to be discussing things like protection and politics instead of homework and gossip. There was really nothing to do. The army had blocked most of the roads. There was a curfew imposed that nobody really obeyed (more like, "Curfew? LOLOL.") but the threat of it hung over our heads nontheless. The stores were closed, as were most of the supermarkets and banks. To put it simply, the country was at a complete standstill. As my brother said, "I want to be able to go out and buy an apple, man!"
And there was still no internet (a nightmare) and no school. A bit lucky, considering the revolution had happened in the same week my exams were supposed to occur. Nobody did any homework, either. "Sorry, my country was in the middle of a revolution" is a pretty good excuse to put off that math assignment.
You'd think this would wear down some of our enthusiasm—nothing takes the protesting spirit out of a person like a few days of sitting on a couch, feeling useless—but since we had no internet, all we did was watch news, and that got us all worked up. By Monday night, everyone in the country was an expert on politics. It was outrageous. I had never been so politically aware in my life. I almost want my ignorance back.
On Monday, everyone was basically getting hyped up for Tuesday, which marked exactly one week since the protests had begun. On Tuesday, the protestors planned to do a Million March across Cairo to Tahrir Square. (Note: We're big on naming our days. Friday of Rage, Million March, Friday of Farewell…a running joke was that if Mubarak didn't leave, we'd name the next Friday Don't You Get It Already?)
The greatest relief was that the army—although they strived to remain neutral between the people and the government—announced that they would not harm anyone who protested in the Million March. It gave everyone a surge of hope. And so Monday night found us in a much better position than Friday had. I think Monday was the first night I was finally able to sleep without the baseball bat, and that wasn't at all because we'd finally found some bullets for the gun.
We're so glad you finally got some rest, Bingo, and we're in awe of your courage, resolve, and great sense of humor!
Related post: Living Through the Egyptian Revolution