Due to internet being cut by the governoment in Egypt because of the protests calling for Mubarak to leave power all my friends and family in Egypt cannot report what is happening over there.
A friend of mine managed to get internet access and asked me to publish the below on her behalf:
View from my balcony
(Under forced curfew)
Saturday, 29th of January 2011, turned into a night of terror for the Egyptians, after the tragic turn in events with the withdrawal of ALL police and security forces from the streets of Egyptian, the application of an overnight curfew and the coinciding breakout of dangerous prisoners and thugs in the streets. At 12:30pm I received a phone call from a friend who lives just 10 minutes away saying with a trembling terrorized voice: “There are people from “Kilo 4.5” – an area east of Cairo known for its slums – attacking our street, tell all the people to go down in the street”. In a few moments, all the men and teenagers from our building and the neighboring buildings rushed out to the streets, grabbing everything they could find; broom sticks, pieces of wood and all sorts of kitchen knives, for self-defense. I couldn’t find anything proper to give my dad except the wooden wardrobe hanger, throwing all my clothes on the bed on the way.
It was a moment of true panic, and from that moment onwards, the streets in my beloved Egypt were not the same. The Egyptians were not the same. They grew much stronger, dignified and noble, at least in the eyes of their fellow Egyptians. Every man, every young man and every kid aged 10 years+ was alternating guarding shifts, 24/7, standing in front of their buildings and at street corners with a stick, an electric shocker, a hunting gun, a kitchen knife or anything that would serve as a weapon, in order to provide protection for his neighbors. The following day, Sunday, people started forming protection committees to protect public institutions (hospitals, banks, electricity and water companies, etc.) while some guys choose to act as traffic officers and inspectors, forming checkpoints in main streets. Drivers were cooperative, they’d willingly hand their IDs and car licenses and open their trunks for inspection to young men who politely apologize for the inconvenience and explain that the security check is for everybody’s safety sake. The streets themselves have turned into military camps, with barricades set up at every street entrance (sometimes using plain sand bags and rocks). At night, fires were lit-up in order to provide warmth for the civil night-guards who have divided themselves into groups that stand every few hundred meters away from each other, and labeled these groups with consecutive numbers. To help them stay awake, each group would call the number of the following one every hour, the called group would yell back indicating that they are stable and alert.
Saturday night, at 1:30am and just as I was about to sleep, I had to jump out of bed and rush into the balcony following my parents as we heard loud whistles (the call sign for “S.O.S” among the civil guards) and people running and yelling towards the corner of the street, which was clearly visible from the balcony. We watched as people gathered around a guy that was apparently caught while trying to jump off a nearby fence. The men yelled calling for anyone with a gun to come and help them lest the intruder escapes, then we all waited for the patrolling army tank that the army had dedicated for our neighborhood (as it did all over Cairo neighborhoods) to come and pick up the arrested thug..
Today I walked to the office where I work, past the civil checkpoints and army soldiers spread about in main streets. Many of the passer-bys hold sticks in their hands. It’s almost as if all Egyptians became a primitive tribal clan. However, unlike yesterday and the day before, people are becoming more confident to go out in the streets, some even say streets are now safer than it were at the time when ministry of internal affairs ruled the scene! But what people are more confident of is that there is a deep internal rage in every Egyptian’s chest against the police and security forces that has COMPLETELY fled the scene for three long nights, a rage that’s still buried under the surface, and the only thing that’s holding from eruption is the fact that not a single police personal in a uniform has been seen in the streets since Friday evening, and if they were, there are treated at the civil checkpoints with doubt and total dismay! Only time will show how Egyptians will come to forgive these police forces for letting go of their own people’s security and protection.