Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egyptian Protesters Stand Firm

By Jessica Elsayed
Senior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – As citizen protests against President Hosni Mubarak continued today, military planes and helicopters flew very close to the ground near protesters in Cairo and in Alexandria.
This move was perplexing. We had been sure of the Egyptian Army, that it wouldn’t turn on the people, but things are a little more confusing now.
The tactic of flying low seems to be to scare people, but the protesters are standing their ground.
Every time the planes passed by, the cheers of the crowd grew louder.
People didn’t move a centimeter. They would stand in place, so brave, not even thinking about moving.
My parents won’t let me join the protests. It really hurts to know the revolution is happening and it’s only a half an hour away. What am I going to tell my grandchildren? That I watched it on television?
At least I can write. I will make my contribution by telling Egypt’s story and being a voice for my generation.
It’s getting harder to get information. No one here has Al Jazeera on television anymore.
Reporters for Al Jazeera had their licenses taken away and now those who have relied on this network are left with state-sanctioned television and what we can get by satellite.

U.S. State Department Map of Egypt

The Egyptian television network is playing national songs and telling viewers that the other channels are dramatizing the situation.
It’s absurd and hilarious.
My neighborhood, which is quieter than most and away from downtown Alexandria, had another looter. I’ve talked with people in other, more crowded areas of town where looting is more prevalent. They said they’ve seen 30 or 40 looters at once, zooming through the streets on their motorcycles.
People are not standing for it, though. The men are still standing guard outside my building and they’re ready if the motorcycles come here. This morning, they came in at 8 a.m. and for tonight, they’re trying to arrange shifts so some can get rest.
Some people have tied looters to light poles in the street and others held them captive inside stores. Lots of people were caught last night so there is less looting now.
People feel safe, but they don’t feel security. It’s not so easy to sleep.
We still don’t have access to the internet.
As far as I’m concerned, Mubarak has taken the nation back to the Middle Ages.
I’m sure he is terrified, though, with 50,000 or more people in El Tahrir Square, the center of the revolution in Cairo.
There are curfews, but no one is listening to them. It might be hard to go out after curfew, but those who are already out at the protests aren’t coming back in.
The police have disappeared, but people are worried that they’ll be back. If they do return, it means more death, because they’ve been really violent.
This account is based on a telephone conversation today with Jessica Elsayed from her home in Alexandria. Because she has no internet access in recent days, she has been unable to send articles or review these posts before they are published. This account may change after she has had a chance to review it.

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