I promised an update on the demonstrations/ protests that have been occurring recently so here it is. I have structured it like a timeline so the events of the last week are easy(ier) to follow. I will try to explain all the events as simply and correctly as I can, but this is just my interpretation. For more “reliable” resources here are some links to try:
Thursday January 24th: On this day, Muslims in Egypt celebrated the birthday of Prophet Mohammed. In the evening, fireworks lit up the sky and cast light over small groups of protesters anxiously awaiting the anniversary of the Revolution. As much as I could tell, the protests were light and non-violent. This day marked the beginning of our week long “house arrest.”
Friday January 25th: The second anniversary of the start of the Egyptian Revolution. From the moment we woke up, our eyes were glued to the television screen. News coverage of the major protests went all day and covered the happenings of numerous cities across the country. It started out small and quiet in every major protest location but come the end of the morning and after the noon prayers the crowds swelled. Flags waved, signs were raised, the yelling and chanting were so deafening it was nearly impossible to hear the commentary over the noise. Violence broke out in many places. Stones were thrown, tear gas was used, cars (and I think buildings too) were set aflame. Watching the people pour into the streets over the course of the day and hearing the chants of the still desperate protesters brought up in me an odd sense of awe. I had never witnessed anything of this sort, it was almost inspiring to see and hear the cries for “Bread, freedom, and social justice”. A small part of me wanted to join in the fight against injustice, it was as if I was brought back in time to the American Revolution, taking a stand against the forces of tyranny, but this is not America, this is not “tyranny”. This is Egypt and it is their fight and I respect that whole-heartedly.
Saturday January 26th: Protests celebrating the anniversary continued on this day across all of Egypt. They maintained slightly smaller numbers on this day compared to Friday but generally the protesters still emphasized the end of President Morsi and the faults of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today the verdict of 21 Port Said fans was given (see below). It didn’t make as big a news as the continued Revolution anniversary protests, however, it would quickly become bigger and more important than anyone could have imagined.
[youtube width=”550″ height=”400″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnqLemAmpso[/youtube]
Sunday January 27th: For those that don’t know, in February of 2012 , 74 soccer fans were killed at a game in the city of Port Said. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the murders and numerous anti-government conspiracy theories have gained a great deal of support. As far as I understand it, 4 minutes before kick off the hometown fans of Port Said ran from one side of the stadium to the other and began throwing rocks and shooting “fireworks” at fans from the visiting team of Cairo. Very quickly, things escalated and there are reports that many Port Said fans were using makeshift knives and even swords against the Cairo fans. When bystanders of the violence tried to flee, the stadium doors had been locked shut. In the end, 74 perished and approximately 300 hundred were injured. The controversy/ conspiracy theories stem from the fact that A. Every fan had to walk through metal detectors, so how could weapons have been snuck in, B. The police stood by and did not interfere in the violence as it was occurring, and C. The doors were closed and locked before the game had even started. To put another twist into the whole thing, it is understood that since the Cairo “fans”/populace played such a huge role in overthrowing Mubarak, it is possible that Morsi’s entourage could have feared another uprising and so instigated the whole thing. Regardless, when the verdict was read on Jan. 26th condemning 21 fans to hang on the noose, the streets in Suez and Port Said and even in Cairo went CRAZY. Everything became extremely violent and destructive.
Monday January 28th: The violence in Suez, Port Said and Cairo continued. Ismailia and Ramses also quickly become very hot spots. With the death toll of the weekend climbing over 50, Mohammed Morsi declared a State of Emergency in the three most violent provinces of Suez, Port Said and Ismailia. With this he also enacted a curfew, requiring every person in each city be off the street by 9 pm or risk being placed under arrest. With this news, the country was yet again rocked to its very core. The most despised thing about Mubarak’s regime was his declaration of Emergency Law (which lasted for 30 years), wherein police are given the authority to arrest people on sight and police brutality is allowed to run rampant, unchecked by any government officials. Protests yet again erupted across the country, and Port Said continued to display its disregard for Morsi by STARTING its protests at 9pm, right at curfew.
Tuesday January 29th: Port Said, Ismailia and Suez protesters continued to demand the release of the 21 condemned soccer fans as well as the downfall of Morsi, who by now had gotten the attention of the entire country. Protests continued to start at 9 to demonstrate the blatant contempt for Morsi and his government. Other cities across the country began to make public demonstrations, displaying anger and frustration with the new regime. Funerals of protesters that died (over 20) demanding the release of the sentenced soccer fans, occurred throughout the city of Port Said. Thousands gathered to carry the coffins through the streets.
Since I was not able to watch the news tonight I won’t comment on tonight’s activities but my best estimate is that things are not calming down in the East (Suez, Port Said, and Ismailia) despite the Emergency Law and the curfews. More people are beginning to question the events of the soccer match and many more are questioning Morsi’s “Mubarak-Like” reaction to the events that have transpired since. The fate of those sentenced is still unknown as their case COULD be overturned by a high ranking Sheik (I think is the proper term) if he feels they are not deserving of death. But more trials of other fans are still to come and parliamentary elections are also just a couple of weeks away.
For now, the four of us remain under “house arrest”. Although the protests in Alexandria have not been especially violent or attracted large numbers, they don’t want us wandering too far from the university or our apartment and weekends will continue to consist of watching the news or movies until further notice. I pray that things will settle down soon and the truth will come forward.
I hope all of this was helpful! Please feel free to comment with any questions.
Thanks for reading! Ma’a Salaama!