February 8, 2011

Alan Chin & David Degner in Cairo: Traffic and Camping

The Egyptian government is anxious to let the world know that life is returning to normal, that they have made enough concessions, the system works, everybody should go home. Google Middle-East executive Wael Ghonim was released from twelve days of detention. Certainly, it’s a relief for fundamental services to be restored, as this traffic jam in the Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo demonstrates.

However, the protest in Tahrir Square is not going away anywhere fast. In fact, it is taking on more permanent aspects of a long-term sit-in, as tents and plastic sheeting are erected for shelter. A group of protesters slept right next to and around the army’s tanks and armored vehicles to prevent them from moving — either out of the square, which might open the field to the pro-Mubarek mob — or further into the square, potentially evicting the encampment.

The vibe at times gravitated between echoes of Woodstock with carnival as an intrinsic part of revolution, and Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 1989, with an initially sympathetic army and foreboding, hidden power struggles. Both the regime and the protesters have proven more resilient than might have been imagined at various moments during the last two weeks.

So normal life resumed? Sure, if sleeping in the square and having the army on the streets is the new normal.

–Alan Chin


To see the entire BagNews series from Cairo: Middle East Uprising 2011

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