Sunday, December 2, 2012

Amidst the protest

Last Friday, the opposition has called for another protest and people followed this call all over Egypt.

I joined the protest in Hurghada again. The activists added a small red lorry to lead the protest. On top of it they fixed loud speakers and two or three men rotated in transmitting the chants. Flags, banners, posters and papers with slogans were handed out.

Some people observe me suspiciously. When my Arabic teacher S. arrives, I forget about it. M., one of my students is here and another foreigner joins. I’m not the only one anymore! I., another activist, remembers me and shakes hands with me.

The group starts: ahead is the lorry, then some men carrying big banners and the Egyptian flag, behind them we the women and at the end the men.

Women of all age walk next to me, in front of me and behind me, chanting full-throatedly. They hold up banners or flags, raise their fists in the rhythm of the chants. People step on my feet, push me from the back, from right and left. An Egyptian lady links arms with me and tells me that she knows that I am S.’s friend. This is my legitimation, I’m accepted.

It’s hot, much too hot for this time of the year and there is absolutely no wind. Most people are dressed according to the season – not according to the temperature – that means, much too warm. The respective odours linger in the air and mingle with the exhaust fumes of the small lorry.

Me too, I also step on other’s feet, smile, apologize, try to find a gap in order to avoid it. Yet now, a flag is waving around my head und I can’t see anything. Now and then, the march stops and I look back to take pictures. I discover another friend of mine and greet him.

Men make again a human chain around the protest march. I walk at the side to have more fresh air and freedom of leg movement. But I. appears and shouts “goa” – inside. Inside, in the middle of the group. I raise my eyes to the frontages: there are much more people on the balconies, they applaud and join the chants against Moursi, the constitutional declaration, the constitution and also against the Muslim Brothers. A companion shouts into my ear „dustour diktatoria“ – dictatorial constitution.

I leave the group for a moment to take pictures from the edge of the street. The group is somewhat bigger than on Tuesday. Someone on the side-walk is mumbling what this foreigner has got to do there. This affects me a bit, but this is typically Egyptian. I return to the group. Now, men hold a rope around the group.

I walk deep in thought amidst the group to Sekalla. I do this to support Egyptians and not to interfere. I do this because I know what all is about and how difficult it will be for Egypt. Last week, I wrote “continuation of the 25 January 2011”, even before I knew how Egypt would react on Moursi’s decree. Meanwhile, the draft constitution, hastily assembled mainly by Islamists, was voted over and a date for the referendum is scheduled. Judges are on strike, protests continue, UNO and EU put pressure. Intellectuals, politicians, ex-presidential candidates and activists fight united against an imminent dictatorship which would restrict the people’s lives even more.

My feet hurt from the many blisters from last time, my legs from the hours-long march. I compare with Western Europe: democracy, state of law, legal security, separation of powers, and compliance with human rights… We all have this and it is taken for granted. We make use of it without being aware what it really means. They also had to be fought for and achieved. Even today, they have to be observed and preserved carefully.

And here in this third-world-country that is mainly known as a sunny destination for diving and beach holidays as well as for its unique historical treasures? Where tourists relax from their hard labour in gorgeous hotel resorts? There is nothing, absolutely nothing. But people know what they want and they are ready to fight for it. This is why they take to the streets. This is why the iconic Tahrir square is once more filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters. They will not give up before having reached their goal.

Someone beside me calls my name. It’s my friend B. who walks on my right and is part of the human chain. I’m glad to see him and we talk a while. We’ve arrived in Sekalla and on both sides of the street people stand side by side. It was like this all the way – unlike Tuesday.

The march turns at Arouse square and I leave the group, say farewell to my acquaintances.

I remember as how one of my students had to form a sentence with the German verb “möchten” (to want): “Wir möchten Demokratie” (we want democracy). I wish that my students soon will be able to form a sentence with “haben” (to have).

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