Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Grim Account of Cairo

A Jerusalem Post journalist has decided to come to Cairo by way of Amman yesterday. His report addresses only the 'human' aspect of the current situation, leaving the analysis for elsewhere.

The account is quite amazing:
It’s hard not to believe that for many of the younger vigilantes, especially the teenage boys, the experience is great fun, the best show in town.
The power trip is palpable, and staying out all night next to a bonfire, loitering with a weapon with impunity is a joy any teenage boy should be able to understand.
Nonetheless, beyond the apparent diversionary and self-protection aspect of the whole production, it seems the checkpoints are a crude show of force. In a country where only weeks earlier people shuddered at the thought of criticizing the regime out loud for fear of violence or detention, the checkpoints and the improvised arsenals seem to send a message that these people weren’t to be trifled with. That if the moment comes when the regime puts this down by force, the work won’t be easy, that even with US-armed special police units at their disposal, the regime will have to get their hands very dirty, and battle it out block by block.
Either that, or that after 30 years of biting your tongue, it’s easier to speak loud when you carry a big stick.
After negotiating an exorbitant fee from a taxi driver breaking the curfew outside the airport, we set out on what turned out to be a nearly two-hour trip into town. The lawless “Mad Max” cityscape was so deserted that it reminded me of Israel on Yom Kippur, with the Israeli kids on bikes replaced by bonfires, vigilante checkpoints, and the occasional army tank blocking the road.
And, like on Yom Kippur, I began to consider begging for forgiveness for my sins – if anything, just so I could make it to the hotel  in one piece. 
Read it all 

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