The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

What kind of day will today be?

One of the hardest things about this past week has been the exhausting process of trying to keep up with our shifting feelings -- being disoriented by our elation, fear, anger. Yesterday, what with all the reports of attacks on journalists, was very unsettling.

I've been watching a lot of state TV and these criminals are inciting constantly against foreigners and foreign media. Paranoia about outside interference and the casting of all tension and demands for change as foreign plots is an old regime strategy, but it has reached a new degree. The protests in Tahrir are apparently organized by Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel, the US, and Iran (amazing how they could all come up with a plan together!) 

The amazing thing is that plenty of people are buying this. The garbage man for our building told us yesterday that "the boys and girls in Midan Tahrir were trained in Israel. Everybody says so." This is so hard to counter because it is has no rational basis. It's the projection of the dregs and fears of the national psyche, the result of a cultivated, perverted nationalism.  

Then again, also under our building, someone was yelling against Mubarak for a good half-hour, only being shushed by the soldiers stationed across the way. 

And this morning is once again very different from yesterday -- crowds are streaming into Midan Tahrir again, the uprising there does not look exhausted or crushed. 

One of the best things I've read that captures the see-sawing quality of life in Cairo right now is this commentary by AUC law professor Amr El Shalakany. Here's how it starts:

It is crucial to remember that almost no one expected the revolution sweeping Egypt today, least of all the people of Egypt themselves.  This fact has left anyone sane teetering dangerously, jet-lagged, in a freefall between two time zones.
For over a week now, some of us have been living in a post-Mubarak time-zone.  As early as last Friday, demonstrators and many policy analysts began to believe the regime had already crumbled, and that it was only a matter of time measured by days till Mubarak fled Egypt.  But Mubarak is still here.