The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Recent reporting

I've written something for The National, looking back over the blur of the last two weeks, and trying to peak forward. I almost thought it had become obsolete last night--but as it turns out, we are still in no-man's-land. This is how it starts: 

Our ruler for the last 30 years/His name is Hosni Mubarak/His description?/He's stupid, he doesn't get it/He's blind, he doesn't see/ He's deaf, he doesn't hear/If you find him/Throw him in the nearest garbage can/Set him on fire..." A tall man in a jellabiya and a traditional turban sang these lines in Tahrir Square one night last week, accompanied by a small crowd keeping the beat on pieces of scavenged metal. It was just one of dozens of impromptu chants ricocheting across the square that has become Egypt's revolutionary headquarters. When I asked someone in the group who the singer was, he answered, with finality: "An Egyptian citizen."

Hana Lotfi, a 35-year-old mother who was there with her husband and children, approached me. "The people have been quiet too long," she said. "And being quiet has done us no good. So we die here - we're already dying outside, what's the difference?"

Egypt has changed, it goes without saying. Things are being done and being said, on the airwaves and on the street, that would have been unimaginable last month. The nation is split, wavering, living "in two different time zones" - the present and the post-Mubarak - as one local academic recently put it.

After two weeks of street protests and violent clashes that have left hundreds dead and thousands injured, Egyptians are waiting - uneasily, expectantly, stubbornly - to find out if they are living through a stalled uprising or a real revolution.

(Thanks to AUC law professor Amr Shalakany, whose brilliant column was an inspiration).

Also, at The World website, you can hear me talk to some of the many women--long-time and first-time protesters-- who have taken to the streets since January 25th. I am still amazed and impressed by how many women here have fearlessly taken to the streets.