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1:30am Cambridge time – 8:30am Cairo time: Annie update
“Whole families, tons of woman, little kids (really cute!) and not an ounce of anti-American sentiment” were the words my daughter used to describe Tahrir Square. She went on to say it was the old and young, middle class and wealthy, Copts and Muslims all with a tangible hope of change. She was there for 3 or 4 hours and her excitement was palpable. Tahrir Square – normally an intersection of masses of cars, people, vendors and tourists is now a car-free zone. She has never seen Tahrir Square so clean as people at the protest have organized clean-up crews. It is also the safest part of the city and functioning as an autonomous zone surrounded by military. A journalist friend of hers ,Jack Shenker from the Guardian newspaper, has described the absence of police as a removal of the “fear barrier” and the neighborhood groups continue to function well in their role of protection and order.
She has not experienced a lack of food but says one of the difficulties is stores closing early because of the curfew beginning daily at 4pm. She does say it is becoming more difficult to find bottled water. We laughed as I reminded her that boiling tap water works really well – something she knows from her childhood in Egypt and a kitchen functioning as part kitchen, part sauna with pans of water boiling at any time to make sure our family of 7 had safe drinking water.
There is a desperation to communicate to the west that this is Egypt’s moment – a time where the people have spoken and are continuing to speak. It is a bit frightening that our country, desperate to promote democracy is promoting democracy hypocrisy, as they remain neutral in the face of an overwhelming majority wanting the step-down of the Mubarak regime. Is the US policy to promote democracy only when we start the process? Egyptians she has spoken to voice a hope for Mohamed ElBaradei who has already formed a leading opposition group with a 10-person committee representing the movement.
I asked if she sees today and the March of a Million gathering to march to the presidential palace as a turning point – “Every day has been a turning point.” Every day people have shown up continued to be motivated and so proud of their fellow Egyptians.”
Asked what she would want to communicate should she have her “tools” available (Twitter, Gmail,Facebook,Blog): “Anyone who believes in true democracy should advocate for Egypt by calling elected officials to apply pressure on Mubarak to resign. He needs to go, Pray that he goes!”. “Oh and you need to really let people know that women are a key part of this!”
As she continues to witness history in the making, she still ended the conversation by reassuring this mother’s heart with the words “If I see it is not safe, I’ll immediately go home”.
Authors note: Update 1pm Cambridge 6pm Cairo Wednesday 2.2.11
“Reports from the ground indicate that people are in Tahrir quite literally fighting for their lives right now against government-hired thugs. Additionally, people bringing in medical aid and journalists are getting the crap kicked out of them right now. The Mubarak regime is not stable and it is trying to silence them in the most violent way possible”
“In solidarity…May the millions marching find a peaceful resolution. Mr. Obama–a new day dawns, support the people of Egypt. Mr. Mubarak–a new day dawns. Do what is best for your beloved country. – Stolen from a friend who said it better than I could”