Friday, March 4, 2011

Cancel that Protest - No, Just Change the Focus

Yesterday afernoon I received a call from Sayed, one of my youth contacts, saying, "I have big news." The Mubarak-appointed Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq, had just resigned. The news was timely as a major protest for today (Friday) had been planned to continue to insist on the resignation. This had been one of the major demands - that all of the vestiages of the former regime be removed. I had already made plans with other contacts to meet at today's protests - in Tahrir, of course - to witness what was to be another major moment in the revolution.

Would it be cancelled given the big news? Not hardly. Expectations now are that it will shift tenor, to be mostly celebration at the further evidence of the effectiveness of the revolution, but also to raise to the fore the balance of the main list of demands: repeal of the Emergency Law (allowing arrests and detentions without cause); release of political prisoners; new constituion, etc.

It's hard to keep pace with the variety of demonstrations. Just a couple of days ago I thought that things had settled to occasional, low-level gatherings of small numbers. Then, on a walk along the Nile that evening, I heard the roar of bridge full of young people marching toward Tahrir. The purpose: to insist on Shafiq's removal. Then yesterday, walking back from the US Embassy, the familiar ring of a protest in the making. Just around the corner were gathered about 200 adults, poised in the classic semi-circle with bull-horn equipped leader at the center,shouting vigorous demands. Their concern: the return of the dismissed trade minister.

Crossed purposes are inevitable. The weight appears, however, to be clearly in the favor of those who want a full revolution: read: complete replacement of individuals and institutions.

This makes Sayed unhappy. The big news was for my ears. He's unhappy about the removal of Shafiq because "he's a good man." And he's worried that things are out of control: "Anyone wants a change now, just go to Tahrir."


Anonymous said...

Intense, my friend. Talk about being where the action is! The only action we see is kids' softball and baseball. Good luck to you and your friends, from those of us rooting for you all from back here in Irvine.

Brian K. Barber said...

Thanks. It feels like a genuine honor to be able to witness such a dramatic moment.