An Update on Us and Egypt

If you’re one of those people who watches the World News you probably noticed Egypt because we are making headlines this week. And like most things that make the headlines, its not for a good reason.

Today is the fourth solid day of protests in the now famous Tahrir Square and they are calling for a million-man march this afternoon, so I’m going to play catch-up. I think people are surprised we’re into our fourth day and now it’s a game of: “he started it!” between the protesters and the police, with no one really sure who did and no one inclined to make it stop.

The on-going protests (yes, I realize that the protests have been on-going since January but I’m referencing this week) have been to express “the peoples'” opinion regarding the Supreme Council of Armed Forces in the creation of their new Egypt. Many people feel certain the Army is trying to carve out its own ruling authority in the new government, and the civilians don’t like the sound of it. This is an interesting predicament because since January the Army has effectively been the government in Egypt as more and more of Mubarak’s regime was arrested, and the police lost their ability to control the people. But apparently, even the Army is being perceived as oppressive now.

What this means for us:

  • No field trips. In the words of one of my professors: “Good thing we didn’t have the field trip yesterday. We would have come out of the museum right as the tear gas flew.”
  • Cancelled class. AUC has two campuses and the downtown campus (the one we fortunately do not attend) has been boarded up for four days. We received an e-mail that it would be closed until further notice and warned people not to come. There’s been some looting, but purportedly some protesters chased down the thieves and returned the stolen items to the school. It’s a nice story, but I’ve no way of knowing if it’s true.
  • Elections are soon. The first day of Parliamentary elections is scheduled for Monday, November 28 – so be prepared to see more of Egypt when you turn your TV on. There are three election days in the next three weeks and classes are cancelled on all three days so the students can vote. No violence is expected, but this weekend is a surprise as well.

In summary: No one is screaming Evacuate the foreigners. The chaos is still contained near Tahrir square, and while it is terrible, we are thankful it is happening in a single, and remote (to us) location. Life continues for us as (basically) normal.

Watch the news – not in fear, but in interest. What is happening in Egypt right now is history that text books will be rewritten for someday. A friend of mine called this “the most important revolution since the French Revolution,” and I think the OCCUPY protests in the US are proof of that. The Middle East is experiencing swift change that has never been seen in any of our lifetimes. I’m thrilled to be living here while it happens.

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