Saturday, February 5, 2011

Egypt's Rumor Mill Continues

Car set on fire in Tahrir on Jan. 28 Getty Images
The rumors are becoming so overwhelming that it is outrageous. From the Egyptian side, word is beginning to circulate that a diplomat car that ran over about 20 people is, in fact, a US diplomat vehicle. Certain people continue with their anti-American rhetoric, and they’ve promptly been removed from my Facebook page. And now you have people blaming the US, but did they ever think about the other side to this: the fact that it was reported that many vehicles, including embassy cars, were stolen? I don’t know why that’s so far-fetched considering all of the other items stolen throughout the city. Dear Egypt, please look at the looters and also police stations that were attacked with cars, guns and other equipment taken.

How about the rumors that it couldn’t have been Mubarak who set the pro-Mubarak demonstrators loose? What did he have to gain? Thus, conspiracy theories continue to fly.

And the rumors and sentiments don’t stop with Egyptians, they are even more exaggerated within the expat community. “Did you hear of the foreigner that died on Road 9?” “OMG, 9 people were killed outside of the Metro market on Road 9!” “A car ran through Maadi shooting people, but the army chased it away.” And the list goes on …and on …and on. I feel like it never stops. I’m getting phone calls to take down my blog because the government is going to start rounding people up. I hear that the army is arresting foreigners and detaining them (although I’ve failed to meet anyone personally that’s had this happen). I keep hearing that foreigners are being targeted and that I should keep a low profile and take my protest pictures down from Facebook immediately.

And to be honest, I have to say that not once since this started (Jan. 25) have I remotely been harassed. In fact, men and women are probably saving more money because now they’re not being forced to give the cops on the street ‘baksheesh’ (bribes). The cops at the Grand Mall harass me profusely, and it’s nice not to have them around giving cat calls. It’s nice not having them around trying to take my coffee out of my hands on my way from the gym. And once again, I am so proud of the regular Egyptians that have taken to the streets – not just protecting their home and family, but everyone including myself. I have never felt safer and think that THIS should be highlighted in the news, not all the rumors and over-exaggerations that are being portrayed (also remember, the only place focused on by the media is Tahrir Square).

Friends that were a part of the neighborhood watch
Everyone also keeps asking, what are Egyptian thoughts to Mubarak? One of my friends said, “I’m pro-change, but that doesn’t mean that I’m for the protests.” It appears that the vast majority just wish for life to resume. And as I walked to the local expat club, it seems like it’s on its way to some sort of normalcy (if that’s possible considering everything that has taken place).

And now via Facebook, I watch how quickly some of my Egyptian friends have changed their tune. One particular friend had his profile picture as all of those gathering in Tahrir Square at night only a week ago. Now he’s continuously posting messages like: “What’s happening in Egypt is chaos, not a revolution.” He also posted: “KEFAYA! We’ve destroyed our economy, our society, and our country as a whole! We started this movement as a peaceful, intelligent, educated call for change, let’s conclude it gracefully and rationally looking out for the greater good of this country instead of a personal vendetta against our own president! Show some respect Egyptians, the dignity of our president is a reflection of our dignity and self respect!”

Speaking on the phone to him last night, he said, “LeAnne, in the past 30 years we haven’t had any wars. In the past 30 years, Mubarak has been a peaceful mediator. While internally things have been bad, no one can deny his external presence and the good that’s happened.”

And I say that charity starts at home. You can’t expect things to be good elsewhere if you can’t make your people happy.

Once again, I’m not here to give my personal viewpoint as to what should happen. This isn’t my country and nor is it my place to say how things should play out. I just encourage all of you to look past the reports and research things for yourself. I also think it’s great that the rest of the Arab world is finally looking at Egypt with fear when beforehand they looked at them with disgust. Yes, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, etc., you should be worried. Egypt should be ruling this region. It has nearly 85 million people and they deserve the chance to be heard.

Information for Americans:
If you are one of the few still located here, someone posted on my blog a link for Americans in need of information from the embassy:

If you have any further information, please feel free to send it my way and I will post it as it comes in. However, I will stress that I think things have calmed down. That being said, I thought the same on Wednesday and then people ran through Tahrir on horseback and camels…

For all of you contacting me worried about food, here's an updated picture. I don't think my fridge has ever seen so much before so please - no more worries, but much appreciated
For other posts taken since protests began, please see:

Protests Rock Egypt Tuesday, January 25
Day 2 of Egyptian Protests Wednesday, January 26
Possible D-Day for Mubarak Thursday, January 27
Looters and Rumors Saturday, January 29
Pro-Mubarak or Paid by Mubarak Wednesday, February 2
My Egypt Thursday, February 3

Sensationalized Coverage Friday, February 4

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