On the 25th and the 26th I was in Cairo in our apartments in Downtown Cairo, 10 – 15 minutes walk from Tahrir Square. The first I knew of anything happening on the street was from the TV. At around 6pm on the 25th. I went for dinner at Cafe Rich on Talaat Harb St just 5 minutes walk from Tahrir Sq. I saw about 150 young people running past the window, all excited and shouting. One of the waiters pulled down the shutters half way. We were watching reports on the TV of people gathering in Tahrir Sq.as we ate. On my way home I saw nothing out of the ordinary other than noticing that the streets were quieter than usual. From 6pm onwards is when people go out shopping, socializing etc.
Wed 26th I was watching coverage on the TV showing thousands of people in Tahrir Sq, all low angle camera shots. The impression conveyed in the TV coverage did not match what I was seeing in the streets. About every two – three hours I heard shouting, went to the balcony and saw a group of about 600 marching and chanting through streets at either end of my street. On each occasion it appeared to me to be the same group of people and they were being escorted and kept together by police. At 8pm on the way to the airport we went through Tahrir Sq. and all was quiet, there were no protesters around.
Thurs. 27th everything normal in Luxor. I spent a lot of time in front of the TV and was astonisted at what I was seeing. I knew enough of Cairo to recognise what I was seeing and since I was watching for most of the day I began to notice more and more the angles films and photos were being taken from. I noticed photos of police and army trucks in locations they are always stationed being slotted into commentaries which made it appear they were now in those locations in preparation for trouble. I noticed how quickly cameras flashed by areas making it difficult to distinguish onlookers from protesters. I noticed a small crowd being kept together outside the journalist headquarters where they were making speeches yet the commentator described hundreds or thousands gathering there – this is an area I have previously seen people gather to voice their feelings on various subjects. I noticed the commentaries and the hype that was being conveyed getting stronger and stronger. I noticed the repetition of the same films and the same photos. I noticed the commentaries were now being given against a backdrop of even older film from previous years and in some cases it was not even film of Egypt – it was film of Tunisia running in the background.
Fri.28th – everything normal in Luxor.until the afternoon when there were demonstrations in Karnak and down the other side of town beyond the Sheraton. Internet was cut all day. That night the office of the Governor and the government offices across the road had their windows broken and there were running clashes between police and demonstrators.
Sat. 29th – 4 guests went to Abydos and Dendera – saw nothing happening along the way. No internet.
Sun. 30th – 6 guests went to the West Bank and 2 went to Karnak Temple and then to the airport. All quiet in Luxor. In the afternoon the muzzein in the mosque next door called the people to come out of their houses, make peace and reconcile with anyone in the family or neighbourhood he was not on good terms with and come together to defend the streets because there were thieves and troublemakers coming from outside of Luxor and there were no police on the streets. The men went to the ends of the street with whatever weapons they could find or make and kept guard for the night. At Mara House we gathered makeshift weapons and “Home Alone” solutions together then sat down for a roast lamb dinner with our 6 remaining guests. Nothing happened that night in our area and I heard that the other side of town restaurants etc. were closed and residents were patrolling the streets. No internet
Mon 31st. No internet. No trouble. Hype on the TV getting increasingly less logical and affecting me. I noticed the channels are now also touching more and more on other countries in the Middle East and report on them in the same way……….I wonder…..is there really trouble there or is it just something small being hyped up same as Egypt?
Tues. 1st. Even though there was nothing happening in Luxor the hype on the TV was getting to me. My logical mind was saying “Look around you – everything is normal, there is no trouble. Even the traffic cops are back on the street. Everyone is smiling and happy to have the security back. There is new sign hanging outside the Bank Misr next to the Philippe Hotel saying “Welcome – our city is safe” Yet my emotions were being directed to some extent by the TV. It was telling me the foreign governments were flying in planes to evacuate their citizens, the American Embassy was evacuating from Cairo, the economy was in the toilet – The last of my guests have left to go on their cruise. The BBC called me (and some other foreigners here) and wanted to know first of all….how many people in the street. They asked to interview me live on air however when I had nothing other than peace and quiet to report they were not interested.
President Obama’s Speech today I am sure that at some stage in history teachers of media studies will refer to this as the famous speech where TV commentators choose to take a single word “NOW” as their quote from an entire speech and tried to use it to bring down a foreign government. Great example of freedom of speech and western democracy!
Wed. 2nd. RETURN OF THE INTERNET!!! Luxor and Aswan business as usual. Everything quiet. I sat at the computer all day catching up with emails, blogging and again watching TV. At least now I have a channel of my own (the internet) where I can let people outside see what I am seeing. I am not sure how many people are even reading my blog or my facebook comments but at least I am doing my bit in the name of sanity! CNN, BBC, Al Jazeeera and Press TV are now blatently and desperately pushing for President Mubarak to go, they are misquoting President Obama and Secretary for State Hilary Clinton more or less every hour.
The staff did a complete ‘spring clean’ in the house from the top down. They had decided to stay even though I told them I could get no money from the bank. They said they wanted to come to work even if there was no work and no guests – they would be ready because everything was going to be alright! Then in the midst of the day two guests arrived who had been in Aswan and before that in Cairo. They were continuing their holiday. I asked them about their experience in Cairo and they said it was nothing like the TV described.
Tonight there was a 2 -3 minute low angle shot on TV showing a few people walking in Luxor – the commentator said there was huge demonstration. I didn’t recognise the location as Luxor and the shot was too fast anyway – it could have been taken anywhere. I asked my guests, who were out in town all day if they had seen anything. They said they saw about 20 people walking and laughing in the street but they hadn’t thought anything of it.
Thursday 3rd. Nothing happening in the streets. All as normal, except for the absence large numbers of tourists, still some here but not many.
Most of the news today on the TV was to do with the journalists themselves. The foreign press are pressing for Mubarak to step down……….since they are giving us their thoughts and opinions all the time……I would like to hear their predictions for after Mubarak goes. That is one opinion they are keeping to themselves. We need to look beyond Tahrir and to the future. Someone please propose at least one more solution to this – we have two at the moment.
Solution 1 Mubarak goes and then what?
Solution 2 Mubarak stays until August and they get on with the actual reforms.
Friday 4th Luxor is quiet. The Immams in the mosques are asking for people to be quiet and calm, not to go in the streets, not to cause trouble, to stay ready to keep trouble makers out if needed.
In front Luxor Temple there are people with a computer, photos of Mubarak, saying we need Mubarak, playing music and asking people to keep Luxor peaceful today.
Anyone else watching the TV notice that there are no women in Tahrir Sq. today? All seem to be men between the ages of 20 and 50…..who are they? What has happened to the cross-section this started out with? Has the movement in Tahrir Sq. been hi-jacked?
Time 14.48 Notice on Nile TV says “25th Jan youth withdraw from Tahrir Sq., form a party and share in elections” Young girl from the movement talking to reporter says they (from Tahrir Sq) should go home, leave President Mubark in office to complete a transition and now use political means to achieve their demands. She also said they had made attempts to contact the BBC and CNN but they were not answering.
16.17 Seems to be a LOT of women in the streets at the protest in Alexadria.
19.20 I am feeling very good about myself!!! Really chuffed! Terry …….(couldn’t catch the rest of his name) from the International Peace Institute was just interviewed on the BBC World Lyce Ducett and guess what ? He said everything I have been saying!! Including that the comments made by the international community has not helped this situation at all! Hurray for somebody standing up! What the international communities, the EU and USA may not realise is that while what those Presidents, PM’s etc. are saying is not being relayed word for word here…..their speeches are being paraphrased to continue the hype and the push for President Mubarak to leave. This is a major reason for the protesters staying in Tahrir Sq. They believe they are being backed by President Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton etc. etc. Maybe they are, I don’t know!
Summary of the day – unfortunately for the media there was not much excitement today in Cairo. Yes, thousands of people turned up in Tahrir Sq and we saw them on the TV. They told us of other marches in Cairo by pro-government groups……but unfortunately we didn’t see much of them. Mostly just another day of reporters’ opinions. Luxor quiet.
5th. Feb. Oops forgot to switch the channels, been listening to a programme on golf without realising it for the last half hour. That just about sums up the attitude here even yesterday. Back to normal life.
10.26 Wow, just watching …..American channels criticising the media covering the protests here for their biased reporting and hype! Thank God for impartial observers seeing what is happening outside!
Sun 6th Feb. Went to Tahrir today – you can see what I saw here
Heard on the TV last night that the US envoy said Mubarak must stay to see the transition succeed then today we are back to Obama and his wiffling and waffling and the White House “distancing” themselves from the UN Envoy and said that was his personal remark not cleared through them……hey ho, you don’t have to have a brain and you definitely should not think, speak or observe for yourself…..hey, it seems you just need to be a remote controlled dummy so to get a representative job from the White House……………never thought I would hear myself talking this way. But then I haven’t though much of what has been coming out of Washington these days anyway.
Also saw some other American Channels yesterday discussing the disgraceful coverage coming from Egypt, heard one guy say something to the effect of “well, not many people in American taking much notice of what is going on in Egypt anyway, so does it really matter?” Well if nobody is taking notice of the American Media in America…….guess their coverage is directed at the people listening to them in Egypt!
Mon. 7 Feb I am discontinuing this part of my blog as there is nothing to report from Cairo other than business as usual. Apart from those in Tahrir Sq. Cairo is returning to normal, cars in the street, shops and banks open. People have had enough. The TV commentators are slinking into the background apart from the odd moments of conjecture due to the lack of “newsworthy” events – there is no news in a peaceful setting! I hope those wishing to see the ancient sites etc. here will soon return. Luxor and Aswan are also business as usual and I understand the Red Sea experienced no disruption.