Sunday, July 24, 2005

Muted voices against terrorism

Here's a first-person account of a visceral anti-terrorism reaction by some young Egyptians, bent on organizing a demonstration in the wake of Saturday's bombings. Follow the posts from there to today. In the academic community, this is what is called the "primary material" of history. Sample here...

Now, can someone tell me what would stop such a car from blowing up inside of Cairo? Can you imagine such a car blowing up at Cairo Train station? The Egyptian Museum? Al Tahrir square in the middle of the rush hour traffic? Fuck it, in the middle of the 6th of October Bridge? Are we getting the picture here? Cause i am, and it sure ain't pretty! What the hell could they do to stop that? Put checkpoints in the middle of Cairo? Before you get on the bridge? GOOD LUCK trying to do that. Too much traffic, too many cars. Just wouldn't work.

Well, what can we do? Kimo and Nagla both are pushing for the protest against the bombing idea,
which you can find here, but I don't know exactly what it would accomplish and I honestly don't know personally anyone who would go to such a protest. You think american youth is apathetic? Ha, you haven't seen apathy till you've met you some egyptians. I was speaking to Izzy today and i told him about the idea and he was like "In this heat? You want me to stand outside in this goddamn weather with like 5 people screaming "No to terrorism"? Are you kidding me? What if someone I know saw me? I would be the AUC's joke!". So yeah, If anyone is gonna organize a vigil or something, then count me in. Hell, e-mail me and i will organize it. But like, what would it accomplish? Tell the outside world that I am against this kind of terrorism? Anyone who reads this blog knows this. I am not sure that protesting would do anything. But since i am fresh out of ideas on what exactly to do, sure, why the hell not?

In the end they were muzzled by the police. This is Egypt, not Iran, but it illustrates my comment yesterday about "opposition" versus the American notion of "loyal opposition."
The first officer looked really torn and dismayed and the other one responded and said " Look. God knows we are with you and share what you believe and think. And If it was up to us we would let you guys stay. What you are doing is a wonderful thing and god knows we are not against you. We lost friends and colleagues in those bombings. But it's the higher-ups. They don’t care what you stand for. They just want to assure that no "hassles" occur in their zones." Just as he was finishing his story, the other officer gets a buzz on his walkie talkie : "did you get rid of them yet?" the voice asks. The Officer says " No sir, not yet!" and the voice from the talkie quickly says "What are you waiting for?" and the guy says " They are not causing any trouble sir, and they all look decent and from decent families." He looked really conflicted, and for a second i really felt bad for him.

The officer then said " Look, there are ways to do this. Inform us first. Call the PR department in the ministry and we will arrange protection for you. They wouldn't say no to something like that. But until you do we can’t let you keep protesting". The other 2 guys started arguing with him: "But it's our constitutional right, yada yada" and while this is happening Najla calls me and asks for updates, I inform her and she was like "I am coming immediately". My attention was then drawn to this new lady standing next to the reporter asking him about what the deal was: How did this thing come into fruition? When did they organize this? She asks me and I explain to her that it is organized by Bloggers and she was like "What? Are you trying to tell me that stuff like this happens in Egypt? That's unbelievable! I am impressed." And she then started calling this guy Gamal Eid who is a human rights activist and got me to speak to him on the phone. He asks me who we are and what we stand for and what our blogs are, and then he is like "Are you guys familiar with
manal and alla? You are? I work with them all the time. Then I will find you guys. What you are doing is great by the way. I wish more people would do things like that!"

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