25Jan 2011 Egypt Revolution Look Back : Day 17 My Experience, Not Politics

Day 17  My Experience, Not Politics
10 February, 2011

For the first time since I moved to Cairo five years before, the city seemed suspended in slow motion. Streets that were once filled every hour of every day, were suddenly quiet. More than two weeks into the revolution, many protestors were spending day and night in Tahrir. Yet, the majority of protestors would come and go. Many people not part of the protests were locked up in their homes, frightened to go out in the streets. By now, the Army had moved into place (a military coup speculated by many) and order was being restored to neighborhoods across the area.

Pollution Solution: Fewer Cars Makes a Difference

The lack of pollution was noticeable. After two weeks of fewer cars on the street, it was actually a pleasure to do errands and go to work. Fewer cars significantly dropped the pollution cloud and provided unbelievably clear views across this facinating city. In particular, the Giza Pyramids were clearly visible from certain vantage points. I have photos to prove it. Typically, they are masked by Cairo's black cloud of pollution.

Day 17: Hope of Change

Earlier in the day, 10 February, it was announced that Mubarak would formally address the nation.
    I clearly remember this morning. I was on the balcony, enjoying the morning sun and pollution-free air. Becoming accustomed to occasionally hearing chants echoing up from the streets, I perceived what sounded to my ears like a distant cheering rock concert crowd. The sounds grew louder and louder. I grabbed my new Nokia camera and went down to the street to see what was happening.

   As I approached Qasr El Ainy street, a main street that leads to Tahrir, the chant was clear, "Mish hinmshee, Howa yemshee" (We won't leave. He leaves.). Thousands of doctors and nurses, wearing their white lab coats were walking from Qasr El Ainy hospital to Tahrir.

   Throughout the rest of the day, workers, bus drivers, and lawyers joined the doctors in Tahrir. Across Egypt, workers were walking out of their jobs to join together in protests of the Mubarak regime.

Regime Remains

Throughout the week, speculation of the health of Mubarak was being bantered about. To discuss the health of the then President was taboo, usually resulting in imprisonment. There were rumors that he had a heart attack or he was in a coma.

   Mubarak's address to the nation came very late in the evening. Rather than resigning, as we all expected, he said he would finish his service and stay in power. But, he would delegate some of his powers to his VP Omar Suleiman. Anger and frustration flared from the protestors, but they kept their word to stay in Tahrir and they kept the protests peaceful.

   Mubarak's speech was discussed and dissected from all sides. Speculation buzzed that the President's speech was pre-recorded. Maybe he was in a coma. Maybe he had fled the country. The list of rumors and conspiracies flew as another day and night ended with no regime change. Across the country, the protests continued to grow.

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