Monday, January 31, 2011

Watching Egypt

I am hugely relieved that my husband flew home from Cairo a few days before protests started. Otherwise, he'd be stuck there, missing the beginning of the semester. I'm not sure if we would still be to able communicate by Skype. If I didn't know how he was and couldn't talk to him, I'd be beside myself.

If you think I worry excessively about Possum and the other cats, you have no idea of what I'm capable of when it's time to worry about people I love.

At times, my husband and I wish we were in Cairo together now, to witness this momentous situation. We realize we might feel differently if we found ourselves trapped in our hotel, forbidden to leave (as some tourists are) and living on dwindling supplies. We have no idea how the hotels, hospitals, and schools are managing. Is anyone actually going to work? Are food, water, and other supplies getting delivered to all the neighborhoods? We have no solid news about this, but we assume things will soon become uncomfortable if they aren't already.  I doubt I'd be stuffing myself with omelettes, chocolate croissants, pastries, and fresh mango juice at the Mena House's breakfast buffet these days. (And if I did, I'd feel guilty. Right after I was finished.)

We both love Egypt, and we want the country to be free to chose its own government and try solve its enormous problems as a democracy. We have many friends who live there, both Egyptians and foreigners.  We are getting secondhand reports that everyone is okay, either hunkered down in their homes, or out assessing damage to monuments at more distant sites. Almost no one's leaving the country.

We heard that the damage to the Cairo Museum was an inside job, by some of the museum's own guards. We've heard rumors that the police are the ones damaging and looting other sites, too. It makes sense: they knew just how to break in via the Cairo Museum's roof. And it's in the police's interest to convince the world that the protesters are dangerous and brute force is justified to keep them in line. However, the true story is coming out and spreading. Sure, there are thieves who would take advantage of this unstable situation and steal antiquities. But the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people are proud of their heritage, respect their monuments, and just want democracy.

You can find plenty of recent footage on YouTube, showing damage to the Cairo Museum and much more. For the latest news, we read "The Lede" on NYTimes.com. Also Al Jazeera.

You can read Zahi Hawass's excellent report on the Cairo Museum and other sites on his website. He had to fax his report to Italy, where it was forwarded to London for posting on his site. 

2 comments:

  1. You bring a personal face to what is happening over there. It frightens me, as a pressure cooker does...

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  2. The situation of the Museum and the priceless antiquities makes my head and hurt hurt. I hope everything is kept safe (and of course leave it to me to worry about the art first...sigh).

    I'm very glad that your husband made it home! It's certainly exciting to watch this all happen... but from a safe distance.

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