Tuesday, November 27, 2012

„Erhal Moursi“

„go ارحل يعني!“ and „no ارحل يعني“ („go“ (in Arabic) means „go“ in English / „no“ (in Arabic) means „no“ in English) and other funny chants could I hear tonight.

On my way to Dahar, I was surprised to see that people in the street and in shops continued their routine. I arrived at the big round-about in Dahar: still nothing. I walked towards the courthouse and there I saw them: a group of protesters, starting their march. I took out my camera to take pictures from the posters and people, deciphered an Arabic banner… and heard somebody calling my name: my Arabic teacher S. in the first row!

From that point on, I was one of them. We walked to the big round-about and further all the way through Nassr Street and to Sekalla, and still further till the “Central”. Again and again the group halted and chanted at the top of their voices and with megaphones “we are the people”, “go Moursi”, “you (the Muslim Brothers) are Egyptians as well”, “the people demand the purging of the system”, “Muslims and Christians are one”, “we don’t want the Muslim Brothers” etc. The demands were accentuated by tambourines and hand clapping.

Women held their hands or linked arms with each other, tried to stay close to one another. As soon as we were about to drown in the crowd, S. pulled me and her friend forward, there where there was more space. The men hold their hands forming a human chain to protect us from traffic and other surprises. Passers-by stopped on the street and the side-walks, came out of shops and buildings, stood on balconies and joined with quickly designed card-board-posters. They joined with kit and caboodle. I carried a small child for a while so that it could rest a bit.

For sure, I was the only foreigner. A woman on my left asked me if I knew what all was about? Hm… yes, roughly… I’m an ignorant foreigner, am I not?

However, what I did not know when I went out, is that I’d walk six or eight km in sandals. I have blisters and my legs hurt. The blisters will disappear, the memories won’t.

And what about the rest of Egypt? Protests everywhere…

Continuation of the 25 January 2011

What began on the 25 January last year will most probably continue today: all over Egypt, demonstrations are to be held. It is not one of these small “Friday of…” demonstrations but there is a lot of anger, fury and disappointment and the protesters – seculars and liberals united – have clear demands. The live-transmissions from Cairo show already now a huge crowd. They demand that Moursi (meanwhile called “Moursollini”) retrieves the constitutional declaration, the Ministry of Interior be purged from the remnants of the old regime, the innocently imprisoned protesters are allowed their rights and a constituent assembly representing all Egyptians.

The Muslim Brothers called for a counter-protest for Sunday. They have cancelled it wisely. Same did the Salafists. However, this does not mean that they will not mingle with the crowd or lie heavily armed in wait in side streets.

What the old regime did in January and February 2011 in co-operation with the Military and the Ministry of Interior, is being done now by the MB in co-operation with the Ministry of the Interior (I ask again: where is the Military?). There are many footages, videos, photos and evidences about the violence against protesters or randomly picked-out passers-by. The MB are digging their own graves at full speed.

May there be a miracle!

Monday, November 26, 2012

In a foreign land but not foreign

Wonderful tomatoes, big, red, juicy, fruity and fresh. The dark skinned black curled vendor dressed in a brownish-grey kaftan is shouting with all his might “tamaatiim kwuissa bi talaata gineh!” Flies bustle about, sit on the flawed and overripe fruit and vegetable. Here and there incense sticks are burning in order to chase away the flies. The ground is bumpy and slippery from the juices, the remains of the vegetables and fruits, squeezed tomatoes, guavas, grapes and the kernel from the pomegranates. The hustle in the fruit and vegetable market is big, the shouting loud.

In the midst of this oriental confusion, oblivious of all around me, I chose tomatoes without being unsettled by the hustle and the shouting. One kilo? No, I better take one and a half; they are eaten away so quickly. One kilo doesn’t last until the next shopping in a week’s time.

Something softly touches my arm. The nasty poking of the beggar women that begs day after day in the market to make her living? No, that’s different. In amazement, I look into the direction from where this touch comes from and smile: it’s a Swiss lady who lives here, who comes across my way frequently! What a surprise, we met some days ago at a completely different occasion. We laugh and talk naturally about tomatoes and salads. Over there, the salad is only three pounds, she claims, and bargains a better price for me. Then, each of us goes our way that is so different from what our common language might let speculate.

In a foreign land… but not foreign. More and more frequently, I occasionally meet acquaintances in the street, in a café, in a shop or in the bus – it gives me the comforting feeling of not being foreign anymore.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Moursi overrules the state

Moursi’s Thursday’s constitutional declaration has put himself above the separation of powers, above jurisdiction and above the constitution (that does not even exist at present). Online media call him now “pharaoh” since he virtually has declared himself infallible – and this even retroactively!

When I got to know this Thursday night, I couldn’t get off my eyes from internet, waited for reactions. I asked myself, if the Egyptians would put up with this as well. Yet the reaction came right away: the constitutional court declared to defend its independence to the bitter end. Then I went to bed because Friday early morning we cycled once again to El Quesir – that meant to stay without news all day.

In a breath, Moursi also dismissed the general prosecutor (he tried to do this already a month ago) and swore in a new prosecutor. Probably to appease the people, he decided to reopen the cases against Mubarak and the members of the old regime as well as those responsible for the killing of protestors. By doing so, he pretends to protect the revolution… The one that was stolen by the Muslim Brothers?

The Egyptians don’t put up with this, and yesterday, all hell broke loose. Protests by the opposition have been announced anyway, yet Moursi’s doing added fuel to the fire. The revolution continues and people finally fight back again. Many have realised meanwhile that the Muslim Brothers are also liars and Moursi is only another face for dictatorship. Since January 2011, nothing has improved for the people.

I was rather disappointed about Hillary Clinton’s praise for Moursi for his brokering a truce between Hamas and Israel. This made him boisterous and self-confident. The USA is supporting the bearded. For how long? As long as the MB accomplish the balancing act between being Hamas’ friend and respecting the peace treaty with Israel. This can’t go on for long.

By the way, I wonder: where is the military? Many really believe the fairy tale that Moursi has “disempowered” the military. How long will they accede in this play and when will they show their true face again? If the MB were serious with enforcing the revolution they would long ago have made accountable the real power holders and profiteers!

Their (the MB’s) greed will break their neck sooner or later. Hopefully sooner…

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Before the press conference – typically Egyptian

There is a festival in the (only “real”) shopping mall of Hurghada. Italy and Egypt are the theme and I am also invited to the press conference.

As I usually do, I get on a microbus and get off at the Go-Kart parking because from there, it is less far and more convenient to walk to the mall’s entrance. There is neither sand nor are there broken sidewalks and hence, it’s safe, even for high heels. Hardly having walked a few steps, one of these small city trains comes by that you can see almost in every European or American city, guiding tourists criss-cross past sights, souvenir shops and through narrow alleys. The driver gives me a short glance and I beckon him to stop; I sit down on the bench at the very back, looking towards the following cars. I almost fall off the bench in curves and the people in the cars are grinning at least as amusedly as I do. It was a first for me and I’m already looking forward to the next ride.

In front of the cinema entrance there are a stage and a few stalls. I am walking towards them and – ftttt! – the lights go off and the complete scenery with parking, stage and stalls are in the dark. Typically Egyptian, I think and am smiling good-humouredly into the dark.

However, the blackout lasts only a few seconds and stage and stalls are again brightly lit. The parking not yet, but the numerous police cars are unmissable. There are even brand new fire engines… I’m wondering if these are the same as I saw at the recent Mohamed Mounir concert. And while admiring the marvels in red and white I ask myself if they have ever been used – either in training or in an emergency. They simply appear too clean, somehow as impeccably as in Switzerland.

The press conference with a buffet afterwards should start at 7 pm. Mind you, Hurghada’s governor, the tourist minister of the Red Sea governorate and others shall speak and I’d like to see these personalities, especially I’d like to listen to what they have to say.

Shortly before seven, I enter the iced cinema hall, where the press conference should take place. The Italian hostess, the Italian organiser, an Egyptian minister, an Italian dance group and friends are present, as well as a fistful Egyptians. Have an hour later, the first Egyptian journalists show up  - neither hide nor hair from the governor or his entourage. After 45 minutes, head phones for the simultaneous translation are brought in and passed to some few illustrious guests.

Meanwhile we get to know, that a demonstration is taking place outside. What for or against what remains unknown, but it is taking place on the red carpet over which the governor should step. I also learn where to buy hygienically clean meat and in which supermarket the shop assistant tastes the food with the same spoon with which he serves the customers. Sometimes, waiting makes sense! – I’m glad that I understand all different kind of languages.

Shortly before eight – one hour late! – the governor gets announced. And suddenly, police men and personalities by the score roll in. The most important persons can be easily discerned by the high number of police men, the submissive gestures of the surrounding people and the perfectly fitting suits of the stout men. Pardon my irony!

The hostess welcomes everybody – in Italian. The governor has his say, first in English, then in Arabic with simultaneous translation – which can obviously not be understood by everybody due to technical problems – then again in English. The tourism minister and the other gentlemen don’t even try in English and the microphones don’t work properly. What I understand from the Arabic is, that every single one thanks for the event and emphasises on the importance of tourism for the Red Sea governorate.

This is where my patience snaps. It is too cold, too unprofessional and I renounce the continuation including the buffet. I take flight outside where the night temperature matches with the iced cinema hall and order a Shish Tawouk (grilled small skewer with spices, wrapped in pita bread) in order to warm up.

While eating and looking around, I see more police cars and the governor’s car with the number plate “RS1“ (Red Sea 1). It’s a long time since I’ve seen as many police cars as this – although there are permanently police controls with a large muster of police at any possible and impossible places and times.

I quit this “typically“ Egyptian event. It was my pleasure! And tomorrow and after tomorrow I still have the opportunity to admire singers, fashion show and dancers. I’ll get myself informed about the press conference from the media (Al Ahram and Egypt Indipendent were present with journalists and banners) or somehow else…