The call today was for a demonstration in front of the Saudi Embassy in response to the treatment that befell Egyptians, at a Saudi airport, on their way to Egypt after performing Umrah. Someone might say, is this worth a demonstration amidst the upheaval Egypt is going through? Then, people on route to the Mediterranean Coast to spend Eid there were stalled for a good many hours because the Wadi Natroun townsfolk decided to block the Cairo/Alexandria route. A car had fatally injured a child pedestrian and sped along leaving the town in fury. The protestors also asked for a pedestrian overpass so that town folk can safely cross the intersection. Both reasons are legal rights, but how do those heading for the coast feel trapped for many hours at the mercy of others?
With Ramadan over, sit ins are returning to Tahrir once more—no one knows why this new wave of protests is occurring; that isn’t the point, but in the meantime, the police forces have also begun to congregate around the Square. End result, mayhem has restarted: clashes occurred already--rock throwing and a lot of foolishness seem to be the dominating picture of the last hour.
During the course of the last few months, we’ve seen protestors protest SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces); the Israeli killings of Egyptian soldiers; and the Syrian, Libyan, and any government that is clashing with its people, in addition to the Israeli one, of course. We’ve witnessed sit ins complaining the lack of proper shelter and residency, the need for a traffic light—with protestors lying in the middle of the Corniche in Alexandria to convey their disgruntlement; low wages (and the high wages of some); and denouncements of deans, teachers, and surprisingly factory owners. The people in Qena protested against the appointment of a Christian governor and warned they would cut water and electricity supply from reaching Sinai. Two days ago, residents in Saft el Laban blocked traffic to the Ring Road in the hopes of regaining their water supplies. And of course the families of prisoners have asked for the children’s freedom; whether they are guilty or not is not the issue.
The bottom line is that Egyptians have become perennial protestors. Protesting seems to have become the only solution to get a response from officials. The true Egyptian protestor is the one who stood his ground for 18 days after January 25. This protestor is long gone, and the copycats who believe they’ll get what they want by protesting are utilizing the same approach.
Many Egyptians want change, but they want it instantly. They congregate in an area and create havoc intentionally. They realize that, if they cause mayhem, the government would have to react and listen to them, which is true in most cases.
The reasons as we saw are varied in breadth, veracity, and expectations. You have the political ones, but you also have the socioeconomic, the labour related, the personal, and the religious. It almost seems as though this is becoming a way of life in Egypt. I have this fear that some of these protestors have turned the protesting “life” into a regular daily job. And once one cause is overcome, they’ll start another cause and on we go.
Only a few minutes ago, the governor of Giza announced that indeed a pedestrian overpass will be built towards the entrance to the town of Wadi El Natroon. He is responding to the protests that closed off the Alexandria/Cairo road. Had protestors not closed off the road, no one would have thought of reacting. This is exactly what I am talking about. Nothing gets done; then protestors proclaim a street, an area, a ring road, and then, only then, officials react.
But this is a double-sword dilemma. It is becoming a perennial way of getting one’s rights, fair or not. True there are incidents which, for the welfare of Egyptians, it makes sense to comply to, but there are other incidents that should never be acceptable and should never be dealt with as a given. Think of the Qena governor who was asked to rescind his position because he is Christian. Once you give in to such drastically erroneous demands, you live to pay the price forever.
As much as I am happy that some people are getting their rights, apartments, dues, etc., I’m deeply worried about what is becoming the norm. The norm is not to protest. The norm is to present your case through legal and proper channels in case Egyptians have forgotten.
If officials fix issues without being pressured and if Egyptians learn to ask for their rights through the necessary channels, Egypt will return to normalcy—both ifs are indeed extremely difficult to accomplish in the atmosphere enveloping today’s Egypt.
Update: September 4: Four protests occurring today: Engineering students, post office works, Mubarak's supports planning bus rides to trial to protest the trial, and Aswan Governorate workers burnt the building because Interim prime minister, Essam Sharf, did not meet them as seen in the photo below.
How ridiculous can we get? And how sidetracked can we be?