Journal: 24 January 2011 – and onwards
On the plane home from Egypt Sam was talking about some Arabic news footage she had seen on TV about demonstrations in Cairo over the weekend. Though we didn’t know much about it at that point, it was unusual to have such large demonstrations in Egypt.
What we hadn’t realised that this was all part of a series of protests in the Arab world, partly inspired by the uprising in Tunisia that had occurred a month or so ago. These protests all across the Middle East were to become known as the ‘Arab Spring’.
The day after I returned home, on January 25th, the demonstrations in Cairo began in earnest – organized to coincide with National Police Day. I began to watch the news coverage with horrified fascination as the Cairo story unfolded – they say it was organized mainly through social media and I, for one, was getting much of the current news through facebook and twitter. Tens of thousands of protestors out on Cairo’s streets had never been seen before. Their initial intent was to demonstrate against abuses by the police and to demand the resignation of the Minister of Interior.
I was horrified and saddened by the events of Friday January 28th when the government attempted to put and end to the protests and the terrible loss of life and suffering that ensued. By this time protestors’ demands had expanded to include the restoration of a fair minimum wage, and a fixed term presidency as well as an end to Egyptian emergency law, a ‘temporary law’ that has now been in place for decades.
In the following two weeks, President Mubarak dismissed his government and appointed a new cabinet, but this didn’t satisfy the protestors who were by now like a dog that wouldn’t let go of a bone. It was hard to believe that so much violence was happening in a country so close to my heart. Finally, on 11th February, President Mubarak resigned and handed the country over to the armed forces, who had been seen to be almost in a peace-keeping role, portrayed by the media as a ‘friend of the people’. The new military rulers made many promises that went some way to satisfy protestors demands.
Now, almost eight months later, many of these promises have been broken and little progress seems to have been made in the Egyptian Revolution. I can only hope that the upcoming elections will produce a strong leader who is able to lead the Egyptian people to a better fairer future. Time will tell.