Egypt has much to teach the West


Adam John Waterman recounts his journey in Egypt after the revolution @ Feminist Wire.
Everyone wants to talk about the camels. “Can you believe they brought camels to Tahrir?” I’ve been in Cairo less than two hours and I’ve already heard at least three stories about the day, February 2, when pro-Mubarak supporters swept through Tahrir Square, attacking demonstrators with makeshift clubs, astride camels and horses. Three days before, on January 30, Mubarak had ordered the Egyptian air force to fly its American-manufactured F-16s low over central Cairo, an obvious attempt at staunching the demonstrations through threat of military engagement. As we talk through the events of that first week, however, this is not what anyone wants to discuss. “The camels came from Giza,” one person volunteers, “because the revolution scared away all the tourists.” Another friend tells a slightly different tale. “Egyptian state TV was reporting that Tahrir was occupied by Afghan guerillas and that they were handing out Kalashnikovs. My brother rushed there to fight the Afghans because he’s a patriotic Egyptian. He didn’t know what was really happening until later. Then he joined the resistance.” Several people I speak with conflate the events of this day, February 2, with those of January 28, the “Friday for Martyrs and Political Prisoners.” January 28 began with the nation-wide Internet crackdown, saw police attacks on demonstrators following the Friday prayer, and ended with Mubarak’s National Democratic Party headquarters in flames. The camels didn’t show up for nearly a week. Nonetheless, at least one person recalled them making their first appearance on January 28, and—in his memory—it was decisive. “It was after they came with the camels that we attacked the police. It was after the camels that we knew that we were going to win.”read more