From my balcony in Doqqi, I can hear what may be a second revolution taking place.
Several military helicopters with flags attached have been circling in the sky for about an hour. Cars are honking nonstop on Sharea Tahrir (Tahrir Street) a few blocks from our house, and every once in a while a small child rides his bike up and down Sharea Basha Sabry below our apartment and yells “The people want the fall of the regime!”
Talk of a “soft coup” perpetrated by the Egyptian armed forces against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s government is in the air. A friend who stopped by just told me that in Maydan Al Masaha, a few blocks away, a large car filled with armed police was stationed outside of a bank, possibly to prevent or deter any looting that might take place.
It would be wrong to say that things are tense, however. There’s more of a celebratory feel in the air. Last night, massive crowds turned out in Tahrir Square and elsewhere around the city to protest against Morsi on the one year anniversary of his inauguration. Several news outlets reported that these crowds were as big (possibly bigger?) than those at the height of the 2011 revolution. Broadcasters are throwing around the number “two million.” Based on pictures, that’s probably not far off.
While I was checking social media like a madwoman, I learned that most of the Egyptians I know in Cairo and Alexandria were on the streets and celebrating. It must have been chaotic and intoxicating. There were also several sexual assaults in the midst of the protests, so my roommate and I wisely decided to stay away. Despite a mostly peaceful day of upbeat demonstrating, which included singing, dancing, flag-waving, etc., a group of demonstrators attacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters last night and several people were killed in the process.
The protests continued all night and then shrunk a little in the morning, but as night has fallen, more people are taking to the streets again. A few hours ago, the Egyptian army (which ruled Egypt during the transitional period between Mubarak’s ouster and Morsi’s inauguration) delivered a 48-hour ultimatum to Morsi and “all political forces”: figure out a solution to this, or we will.
Hence the talk of a soft coup. The armed forces are popular here and respected by many Egyptians, so a lot of people have taken this as good news. Meanwhile, I’ve given up all attempts to finish my Alaa Al Aswany translation for class tomorrow and will be blogging about events for the next few hours, in between preparing pasta for dinner and drinking wine. Stay tuned.