Posted by: thebluemusicblog | November 19, 2011

AROUND THE MIDDLE EAST IN 16 DAYS – CHAPTER 3: EGYPT AND TAHRIR SQUARE

?Samy is a tall man with white hair and a big smile. He is Egypt YMCA. He has worked for YMCA all his life and everybody loves him, including myself. Now he stands in front of me at the airport in Cairo and gives me a real bear hug. We talk and laugh and have a great time. Samy is the General Secretary and in his years the YMCA has grown from 11 to 25 YMCAs.

On our way to Alexandria we are caught up in the wild traffic of Egypt. The drivers communicate with one another with their horns, it is really a conversation, an ongoing and never ending cacophony. I admire the skills of our driver to maneuver without once bumping into another car. Four lane streets are easily operating 6 or 7 cars side by side, and still you can overhaul. I ask our driver how they make it work, and he smiles back to me and says that everybody are  following the same system, especially after January 25.  – And what is the system? I ask curiously.

– The system is that there is no system!

In fact traffic police is not to be seen much, after January 25 police do not easily expose themselves to the streets. This high ranking officer seems to be rather relaxed!

Everything has changed in Egypt since January 25. Still a lot more needs to change.

Alexandria is a beautiful seaside city. We arrived on the first really stormy day of this autumn and rain was pouring down. Next day we tried to drive from the hotel to the YMCA and a trip that normally took twenty minutes cost us 5 hours, and most of these hours in deep water.

The YMCA in Alexandria is vibrant of youth activities and is operating in a traditional YMCA building, modernized and used to its maximum potential Magdi and his staff does a real good job there.


We met with twenty five young YMCA leaders from Lebanon, Gaza, Jordan and Egypt and we had inspiring exchanges about NEW WAY and how they saw their own YMCAs develop and meeting their needs as young people of the Middle East. I really enjoyed being with those young people, and later on in the evening we even participated in a Muslim wedding party at our hotel that same evening.  Great fun!

Next day Alexandria apologised  for the bad weather and even traffic was civilized and we thought it would be like a piece of cake to reach the airport in Cairo. A demonstration downtown Cairo ripped that illusion in two parts and I lost my flight to Amman, Jordan, and had to rebook my ticket late in the night. And the rain was pouring down!

The demonstration brought our thoughts to January 25 and Tahrir Square and the 18 days revolution that brought a new term to our vocabulary; The Arab Spring.

In fact the blocked traffic because of the demonstration gave me 6 hours extra time in Cairo, so that I could go to Tahrir Square and see for myself.

Standing in the centre of Tahris Square I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the voices, the screaming, the tense atmosphere as hundreds of thousands of young people kept the square for 18 days.

Friday the 28th of January is called The Friday of Anger. The violence reached its climax that day.  The regime still thought they could kill the revolution. Instead they killed their own youth. Snipers from the police killed hundreds of young activists and left thousands wounded on the streets of Cairo.


I see two images from that day. The first is a poster held by a young man. It says: “Anger. We are the voice inside your head you refuse to hear. We are the face that you have to face. We are the hand that will take you down. Sound of anger.”

The second is a photo of young Egyptian Christians making a human chain around young Egyptian Muslims on their knees on the square in prayers, to protect them from the battle while they are praying.

After the victory I see the saddest image of all. The youngest martyr of the revolution, his name is Belal Salem Eissa Mohamed. He looks like he is 14 or 15. He smiles on the photo.


I open my eyes and walk to the side of Tahrir Square where a camp is still functioning. Tea is served, there is a heating device. Young people around the tents. I talk to one of them, his name is Shaoie. He is one of the victims after the battles. He was beaten up and has got his eyes destroyed. There are many of them around. Some can show wounds after shotguns, some were hit by paid criminals and thugs riding on camels and beating the heads of the activists.

I ask Shaoie if I can take his photo. I wanted to share some of the impressions with you, I wanted you to meet a representative of these young Egyptians who paid a high price for the fight for freedom. The Arab Spring. The young revolution. The facebook revolution. Still there is an election ahead, in a few days, on November 28. I can clearly feel the tense atmosphere in Cairo. What will happen? Will the fundamentalists run away with the results of the revolution

Shaoie says OK and I take his photo and say goodbye and leave the square. I have a flight to catch to Amman.


Responses

  1. Mr.Samy really is agreat man and powerfull too


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