Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Egyptian Revolution

Egyptians have never felt so empowered in all their lives.  When the police quit on Friday, the people took it upon themselves to form neighborhood watch groups, clean up the trash, help each other out.  I have been living in Egypt for nearly 6 years now and have never seen people come together as they have in the past week.   

What you watch on TV is just a microcosm of what is taking place.  All the satellite channels show Tahrir Square and Alexandria along the Corniche, they don't show the neighborhoods, the suburbs, the small villages where neighbors help neighbors.  A military truck was in our development yesterday selling water to anyone interested in buying it. Cigarettes were the first commodity to go, followed by eggs, bread, sugar, flour.  There still seems to be plenty of water available in the stores.

More to follow soon.



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January's Winds of Change

When January 2011 began I thought - what a great year this will be.  On the morning of January 1, 2011 I awoke to the news that a bomb had detonated at a Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt.  I was in complete disbelief.  I thought this can happen maybe in another country but not in Egypt.  Sure enough someone or more than one person set off a bomb that has killed 24 innocent human beings to date, not to mention those who are injured, and their families.  Protests ensued following the church bombing Christians and Muslims together as one, as Egyptians.

A lot of news was swirling around the discrimination of Coptics in Egypt, how Coptics are not given the same rights as Muslims.  This was entwined with the recent police action in December 2010 that stopped a Church from being built so the parishioners took matters into their own hands and started building the Church.  The police in turn arrested those parishioners who disobeyed the police.  As it turned out the government only gave permission for a parish hall to be built and not a church.  No one reported this in the news - they only reported that Christians were being arrested.  Alhamdulillah everyone was released so they could celebrate Coptic Christmas with their families.

Then not long after that some police officer or former police officer had "mental issues" and opened fire on a train in Upper Egypt, killing one man.  There are rumors as to how he went about doing this.  Some say he separated the Muslims from the Christians, or maybe he separated women and girls in hijab from those not in hijab.  

It is sad that these events are taking place in Egypt, in a country where people are peaceful, welcoming, and friendly.

Following the recent events in Tunisia, activists used twitter and facebook to call for a protest the January 25th (Police Day) holiday downtown.  Protest the government's actions, lack of actions, cost of food, lack of services, and high unemployment.  Maybe the government didn't take the calls to protest seriously but the 25th saw an unprecedented amount of people from all walks of Egyptian society turn out for the peaceful, nonviolent protest.  Protesters remained in the streets well into the night.  Because of the protests, the Egyptian government blocked, twitter, Facebook, mobile service in certain areas as well as other media outlets. 

I knew this was going to be quite a January because we've had three ice storms, thunderstorms, with extremely cold temperatures for this time of year.   The coldest and most violent weather in my close to six years in Egypt.

I don't know what will happen next, in the next few hours, days, weeks.  

I pray for peace.