In the midst of a revolution: July Update from Naome Jeanty in Cairo, Egypt
Internet service in Naome’s neighborhood has been cut, but she was able to get limited internet access from her phone and type out this update from Cairo! Posting this on her behalf.
Since the day I arrived in Cairo the massive country-wide protest
scheduled for June 30 was on the tip of everybody’s tongue. On the
days leading up to the protest I tried to get as much work done as
possible. I had no idea what would happen after the 30th and my bosses
wanted me indoors from June 28 – July 1. Though the protests were
intended to be peaceful, everyone was expecting a lot if violence. The
relatively small amount of violence that actually occurred is a
testament to the determination of the individuals who participated.
When June 28 came my colleague Susan and I decided that we would spend the weekend at a home in the 10th of Ramadan, a suburb on the
outskirts of Cairo. We knew this area would see little to no protests,
and we were invited by the caretaker to come to the home and help her
develop a system to manage the children in the summer months while
they were not in school. In the end Susan and I stayed there for one
night and returned to Maadi, Cairo’s Staten Island, where Susan was
staying to ride out the protests.
Early Saturday Susan and I went shopping for food that would last
until the protests were over. We decided that we would stay together
in Maadi at Susan’s flat so we wouldn’t be bored out of our minds
separately. For two days we went nowhere and kept up with the news on
what was happening. Maadi had yet to see protestors.
On July 1st Susan and I went walking around Maadi and things seemed
somewhat normal. There were a lot less people on the street for a
workday but overall it was business as usual. That night we made the
decision to head to Tahrir square.
The decision to head to Tahrir square was a mutual decision between
Susan and I. Our friends were there and informing us that they were
having a blast, and we knew based on what was being reported by
several news outlets that this could be our last chance to go to
Tahrir without having to worry about a massive outbreak of violence.
The military deadline had been set and people were waiting somewhat
Tahrir Square was absolutely breathtaking! It is difficult to put in
words the atmosphere. There was excitement and anxiety in the air,
almost like a house party you would throw in high school when your
parents were away. There were a million street vendors selling tea,
bread, an array of fried food, cactus pears, and candy. There were
even more individuals selling what I like to call anti-Morsi swag. Red
and white headbands, red cards and flags that read “get out” filled
the metro station. It was amazing. As soon as Susan and I stepped off
the train we were bombarded by individuals trying to sell things to
us. We each bought a headband, a flag, and a red card, while getting
the Egyptian flag painted on our faces. When we stepped into the crown
we were astounded. Everyone was excited and chanting. Susan and I made
our way through the crowd and were directed to a women’s only group.
This was the most amazing part of he night. When we joined he women’s
crowd we were shocked to see that the group, which consisted of
mostly muslim women chanting anti-morsi slogans, was being protected
by a ring of men who were holding hands and locking arms in order to
protect the women in the event of violence. No one dared disturb that
ring or men or the crown of women. Everyone there knew we weren’t
Egyptian, but the did not protest to our presence. Instead they
welcomed us with open arms, helped us understand and say the chants,
and took so many pictures with us we felt like celebrities.
As for my work, I lost about 6 days of as a result of the protests. I
was unable to visit the homes as they are located in parts of Cairo
that had seen violence and protestors. I knew this might happen so I
packed my days with as much field work as possible before the protests
began, and left everything else for the time I was on house arrest. In
the end it had little effect on what I set out to do. Instead, it was
one of most amazing things I have ever experienced and I am glad to
have been apart of history.
Viva la revolution.