Monday, April 25, 2011

Cairo Protests - Flashbacks

One of many military helicopters above Tahrir

Maybe I'm just in a period when every emotion is hightened, when small things are blown out of proportions, and I hope that's the case. I thought I had gotten over what happened in Cairo, but apparently that isn't so. I feel bad for reacting the way I do. I wasn't, after all, part of the revolution; I didn't get shot, none of my friends or family got killed or emprisoned. And still, it affected me in ways I couldn't have predicted. A couple of nights ago I woke up from a semi-sleep by two helicopters circling above the house and in a second I was back in Cairo. It took me a while before I fully realized that I was safely in a small town in Southwestern Sweden, but the panic was hard to slip away from and sleep was no longer an option.

Meanwhile in Egypt, former president Hosni Mubarak is being transferred to a military hospital while waiting for the Tora prison to be medically equipped to recieve him, says Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm. A couple of weeks ago, Mubarak suffered a heart attack during the questioning about the murdering of pro-democracy protesters during the revolution. 

Egypt's military interim government is denying the accusations of Gaddafi's Egypt based cousin Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam of funding the Libyan government and of recruiting Egyptian mercenaries, Reuters says. The Egyptian military has so far been careful to not take sides in the Libyan situation but has kept the border between the two countries open to assure that aid, medical equipment and food can reach the Libyans. The number of refugees fleeing Libya into Egypt is far above 100.000. I haven't found a current number, but a month ago, the UNHCR reported the number to be at least 118.000. If anyone has a more up-to-date number, please let me know.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back to Reality

It feels surreal that I was in Egypt just 9 days ago. It feels much longer, or that I haven't been there at all. It's like one of those strange dreams that leaves you waking up confused, not knowing what was real and what wasn't. I was just away for three months - it's incredible how much can happen during such a short time. My whole life as I knew it is gone and once back in Sweden I'm suddenly in a completely new role, with different visions and plans. I'm still me, but things have definitely changed.

I've been having trouble sleeping since I got back, but I hope that will change within the next week. It has to. It's amazing how apparently small happenings can turn into enormous life changing moments, revolutions on the inside and outside. I know I'm not making much sense at the moment, but hopefully I will catch up with my thoughts and feelings soon enough.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cairo Protests - A Last Visit to Tahrir

At two in the afternoon a noisy bus departed fron Hurghada, heading north to the mighty Egyptian capital. Through dusty windows we watched the desert take shape, with rugged black mountains as a silhuette against the darkening sky. As the burning sun gave in to the coming of a star filled night sky and the Red Sea to our right darkened from exotic turquoise to a more respect-giving maroon wilderness, wild flashes started to light up the sky. Paranoid as ever, I considered the flashes as a bad omen but forced myself to let go of the thought of bad things to come. Turns out, of course, that it was nothing but my paranoia of getting back to Cairo. Relaxing a little, I leaned back and continued to listen to an audio book.

Soon, the harsh black mountains were beaten down by equally dark and looming concrete buildings. The stars disappeared and I had to settle with the depressing apricot-pink smoggy sky. ”Back in the jungle” I thought, ”What will it bring this time?”

We went straight to a rented apartment and I literally collapsed on a rock-hard bed. Sleep refused to come though. Instead I laid awake, or in some kind of semi coma and stirred with every sound from the street or the neighbors – or the movements from the wonderful man lying next to me. The plan was to wake up early. That didn't happen. Late in the afternoon, when the setting sun had started to spread gold over the city, we got in a taxi and headed to Khan al-Khalili to do some last minute shopping. I'd have to go in exile if I came home to Sweden without having brought gifts to all my thousand brothers and sisters.

Once done with the shopping, we found ourselves close to the street where we used to live in Cairo during the revolution; Abdel Khaled Sarwat. We decided to walk the street for good old times, and without my dear Khalid suspecting anything (all was, of course, planned in detail by yours sincerely) on our way to Tahrir Square. It was Friday after all and since the revolution started, every Friday have been called something like ”Friday of Anger/Judgement/Trial.” I couldn't leave Egypt without making one last visit to the place that made history and brought up so many feelings inside me. And what a good choice that was!

Tahrir was just like I remembered it. This very Friday, tens of thousands had turned up to force new life into the revolution and to ”push the country's ruling military council to prosecute the former president, Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down under immense popular pressure on February 11.” According to my experiences during that last visit to Tahrir, they succeeded into blowing life into the people. There were the usual chanting and singing, flags being waved in every direction, faces being painted in the Egyptian colours, people wanting to pose infront of the camera... but I felt that the cheering was louder today.

How can it then be, that later during the night, military started to shoot live fire and teargas?  Two people are said to have been killed. Reports are saying that barbed wire is put up around the square to keep protesters out and that the military and police presence is huge. I'm too tired to think at the moment, but I'll keep you posted of what's going on in Cairo as much as I can through my sources.

As for now, I'll drink up my orange juice and head for the gate in Istanbul Attaturk. In a few hours I'll once again be in cold Sweden.