Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Egypt Protests - When the Tourists Left

 We arrived in Hurghada yesterday, Khalid and me. We left Cairo as hundereds of thousands of protesters once again gathered in Tahrir Square. It felt like I was betraying them, the people, like I should be there to show my support or to just report from the spot. But it was time to go. Regardless of what the authorities say, it's not 100% safe to walk in the streets of Cairo as a foreginer. Towards the end of my Cairo stay, I found myself on edge, constantly worried about talking to the wrong person, of someone with distorted mind seeing me taking a photo, of my phone or internet activity to be monitored. Sooner or later, a revolution demands a prize and no matter how sad it made me I felt that I really should leave the capital. So on the bus we went and six hours later we were in Hurghada, empty of the tourists that had nourished the city so far.

Last night I was twitching in shivers and fever and when I woke up I was greeted with a SMS from the Ministry of Interior through Etisalat saying:

From today our dealings with you will be with honesty, trust and lawfulness.

I wonder if words will be enough to satisfy the mourning souls of those who lost their children, sisters, brothers and loved ones through the police brutality. I doubt it. It's too late for their redemption and I think that the only thing that will ever make their deaths worthwile is for Mubarak to step down. And if he continue to insists that he has to stay (for the sake of keeping the stability?) until the election in September, I really hope that the military will show some backbone and follow the will of the people.

Meanwhile, in Hurghada, the protests have been mainly absent but the result of the ongoing demonstrations elsewhere are affecting this city more than it does in Cairo or Alexandria. Hurghada is depending on the tourists. The majority of the restaurants, shops and businesses here are focusing on tourism, and without them there simply won't be any more money coming in. Shop owners close their businesses and put signs in the display window either saying that they'll stay closed until the tourists come back, or urging the foreigners that are still here to stay, saying that Egypt is safe. Who knows what will happen to places like Hurghada and Sharm al-Sheikh if the tourists won't start to come back soon.

As a side note; did you know that the president of the Egyptian Red Crescent is her excellency Mrs. Mubarak, i.e. Hosni Mubarak's wife? Apparently the ICRC have been hindered to help out the protesters in Tahrir but now it says in a report on the ERC webpage that there are first aid activities in Tahrir. I haven't seen them there for two weeks but if it's true that they now have access to the square, then that's all good.

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