Sunday, February 27, 2011

Don't Kill Egypt - The Revolution Bites Back

The refrain is resounding now - that all protests should stop and patience should be excercised to let the changes become real.

I wandered down to the Square today (Sunday), thinking there would be little there, but found an assembly of makeshift shelters in which people were clearly intending on staying put. Immediately I was approached by three youths, one of whom in fairly good but rapid fire English quizzed me on what I saw, why I was there, and what America was being told. Eslam, age 24, seemed angry, gesturing at the protesters (more like squatters actually) and saying "This is killing Egypt."

Like so many other Egyptians, whose livelihood is tourism, he was suffering the ironic downside of the revolution. Mubarak and friends are criticized for having stolen all the money and cared not for the poor - so change comes to remove him - but the revolution that it took to make the change has stemmed the life blood of Egypt: the tourists.

"Tell the tourists to come back," implored Mohammed as he ushered me to the pyramids and sphinx. His colleagues couldn't believe that he finally had a "tourist". The sites were virtually empty, with skads of men - young and old - biding their time, poorer even than before. None have regrets about the revolution, but added to the voices of those who appreciate that change takes time and that Egyptians should be patient, are the pleas of the merchants and guides who are hungry.

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