Anger Spreads across Egypt


Friday 28th January 2011

When I came to Egypt one of my goals was to help to improve human rights and make a change to the injustice of the system. I’ve been here for two and a half years and until this week, I didn’t know how I could make a difference. I have been praying for assistance to find a way to facilitate change. I’ve often felt that a lone, British woman can’t do much to make a difference but I kept praying and I trusted that as I had the right intention my prayers would be answered and as Mother Teresa says “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Sitting in my home on Tuesday evening and watching the news about the protests I realized that my prayers had indeed been answered and an opportunity to become a “missing drop” had been presented to me.

Mother Teresa was against anti-war protests. She is quoted as saying “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” In light of this, I am against the name of the protest days “Anger Tuesday” and “Anger Friday” and I wish that the demonstrations could be more peaceful, however I fear that peaceful demonstrations are not going to help.

So yesterday I headed into Downtown Cairo to join the protesters, gathered outside the journalists’ union building. When I first arrived I was in an off shoot small group of about ten people to the side of the building. Some of the people were a bit aggressive and we were jostled by the police. I felt very frightened and my legs were shaking. I was with my friend Mohamed, aka Snoopy. He was very good and he managed to calm everyone down and he negotiated with the police to allow us into the area outside the journalists’ union, where the crowd was bigger and it was safer.

We spent a few hours there. There didn’t seem to be many people. Maybe only 100. We could see people trying to get down the street to join us but there were dozens of police at the ends of the streets preventing anyone from coming in. We were also surrounded by police who were stopping anyone from leaving to join other bigger demonstrations.

I came equipped with face masks and a bottle of vinegar, as I was told that masks soaked in vinegar are the best defense against tear gas. At one point we heard a bang as tear gas was let off in a street nearby. I got out the masks and started passing them around. My hands were shaking as I poured vinegar onto mine. I was thankful that the gas didn’t reach us.

The people were shouting, “Aish, Horreya wa karama!”, “Bread, freedom and dignity”, and “Yascot, Yascot, Hosny Mubarack!”, “The downfall of Hossny Mubarack”. My Arabic is very poor so I joined in when I could, but mainly I just clapped.

A lot of people asked me where I come from. I explained that I am English. They assumed I was a journalist. I told them that I am not a journalist, simply I love Egypt and the Egyptian people and this cause is very dear to my heart. The corruption and injustice angers and saddens me. There is such a gap between the rich and the poor people here. 44% of the population live on less than $2 per day – Earthtrends.wri.org.

More protests are planned for Friday, after the prayers. I will be there. The missing drop. Making a difference.

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