Sunday, July 10, 2011

Where Have All the Tanks Gone?

Arrived last night in Cairo to begin the second round of interviews with the youths I came to know when first here four months ago. Have kept in contact with the main group of them regularly in the interim via Facebook and email, and all seem eager to talk again. Will also expand the group by including some more diversity - Christian, MB, and Salafi - as well as from areas other than Cairo and Alexandria.

Since the original visit in Feb/March, we've received funding to do a two-year project, consisting of: 1) repeated interviews with the core group of youth, every four months; 2) a national survey next year, and 3) begin work on a documentary. To that end, two producers have joined me on this trip and will be meeting the core group of youth to help determine which of them would be best to highlight in the documentary.

So much for brief update. As to how things are now here, I'll know much better as the week-long visit progresses. For the moment, the one conspicuous difference is the absence of military tanks. Previously, there were small tanks dispersed on all arteries leading to Tahrir Square, and large tanks on the artery that leads to the American and British embassies. Walking those areas last night with Sterling and Arthur, I saw not a single tank. One also sees more police (dark blue or white clad). This is noteworthy because it seems like a degree of normality has taken over the city, but all the more interesting given that the protests have become large and vigorous again in the past days. The current concern is the delay in prosecuting the security officials and officers responsible for killing over 800 protesters duirng the revolution, now nearly 5 months old.

Apparently, the Square was filled during Friday's protest, and yesterday (Saturday) we saw that many had camped out in the center of the Square, re-enacting the process of the original protests that lead to the revolution. It will be interesting to see how long this new level of protest is sustained.

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