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Dispatches From Cairo: Return of the Revolution
Posted on Nov 22, 2011
Concessions have begun. The junta is attempting to appease the protesters and stem the violence by offering concessions—including imposing a long-awaited “treachery law” barring former members of Mubarak’s now-disbanded ruling party from running in the parliamentary elections, which are now less than a week away if they take place. But these actions are too little, too late for the people, who are ready for war. This news appeared only to galvanize resistance, as did the later announcement of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s proposed resignation.
Egypt’s youths are determined and geared up for the good war. They can be heroes and warriors, they are ready to sacrifice, ready for martyrdom and burned and torn flesh, they will go to a field hospital and then straight back to the struggle. A friend of mine says, “They used to dream of cars, houses and leaving the country; now they dream of standing in Tahrir.” The vast majority of the victims of anti-revolutionary violence have been between 19 and 27 years old.
The silent majority is not sure, but it consists of good and generous people, and the shocking videos of the protesters beaten and killed in Tahrir earned huge sympathy. Many people are sending medical supplies, and several pharmacies are providing discounts and free delivery to Tahrir field hospitals. Hundreds are sending camping blankets, food and drink.
There are protests in 14 cities in Egypt now, including Ismailia on the Suez Canal and the strategically important town of al-Arish in the northern Sinai Peninsula. In Egypt’s second-largest city, the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, thousands are in the streets crying “God is great! There is no god but God!” Injuries and deaths are occurring in many places.
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I am afraid to leave my people, who would help me as I would help them in any need.
I also am afraid that if I fall sick in the U.S.—perhaps from having breathed military-grade tear gas—how will I be able to get medical help? I have no insurance. I can’t afford to go to an American hospital. If I fell down, would people rush to carry me to get care?
As we huddled around some burning garbage Monday night to keep warm, a man and woman came and doled out plastic cups of delicious lentil soup and rough brown circles of Balady bread covered with ashes. Two of the young men standing with us seemed younger than the 19 and 21 years they claimed. They were talking about how Allah loves martyrs and they will die here. I pray they will be disappointed and the blood will stop.
I should note that all the ATMs are intact and not a single shop has been looted in downtown Cairo despite the hundreds of thousands of poor people running through the streets with no police presence. This is Egypt.
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