It’s 11:40 pm, and it feels like everyone in Cairo is either watching the protests or out in the streets (with the exception of the other CASA fellows; we’re all trying desperately to finish our weekend homework, because potential coups be damned, we apparently have class tomorrow.) Outside our window, the bats squeak and swoop in the darkness. The two security guards who work at at the building next door have pulled a TV outside and placed it on the front step. They’re sitting in plastic chairs, watching a blurry screen of waving flags and green laser pointers.
I went for a walk earlier today and things seemed normal; less people were out on the streets in our neighborhood, but most shops were open. I saw a father and his young daughter, who was toddling along down the road with a small Egyptian flag in her hand. My roommate and a friend went out for a run around dusk and said the atmosphere on Sharea Tahrir was carnivalesque* – families waving Egyptian flags, music, horns honking, people forming spontaneous marches near Maydan al Masaha, which is a few blocks away. *(Incidentally, they meant the first definition of the word, not the second, though that would have been appropriate as well.)
The five army helicopters with the flags that I spotted earlier circled the protests in Tahrir Square and then dropped the flags to adoring crowds below. An army spokesperson denied their intentions to stage a coup, yet they’re building up political capitol as the hours creep closer to the ultimatum deadline.
Everyone continues to tell me to be safe and I appreciate the concern and thoughts and would undoubtedly say the same thing if the situation were reversed. However, despite the shifting political atmosphere I have not once felt unsafe. The way this event has been described in the American media tends to leave out the positive, hopeful factor of this revolutionary push. The country’s political structure is shifting, but that doesn’t necessarily require chaos. Yes, there has been a high number of sexual assaults in the squares, and there have deaths and some violence. Yet the prevailing feeling is one of hope and enthusiasm; the Egyptian people still hold the power to create change if they don’t like their government. They haven’t lost that magic touch.
Of course, depending on the results of the Army’s ultimatum, the winds could shift very quickly. CairoScene is reporting that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are delaying a planned press conference for tonight until tomorrow, and ONTV reported that there are clashes and gunshots in an area called Suez between supporters of Morsi and opposition groups. 13 people were hospitalized. It was also just reported that the army is going to deploy to protect the anti-Morsi protesters from any kind of attack in Tahrir. It sounds like things are escalating. I’m planning to do battle with some mosquitoes and head to bed soon; we’ll see what tomorrow brings.