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    Posted August 17, 2013 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Protests in Egypt: Your experiences

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    Cairo is not all on fire


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     iReporter AmirBeshay has much to reflect on as he leaves his native city of Cairo to study in the U.S. The past few days have been tumultuous for him, from being trapped at work by last Wednesday’s clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy, to preparing to leave the city he calls home. However, he is at pains to stress that life in the city goes on, and its hardy residents continue to work, play, rest and carry on with life as best they can amid the chaos. "I hope against hope that I get to see this mess end before I leave, and believe that -- once it's done -- the Egyptian government will do all it can to see a peaceful transition into a democracy that is ruled by people who, for a change, actually believe in democratic principles not just power through a ballot box," he said last Saturday. Amir left for the U.S. Monday. The situation in his country remains fragile. CNN cannot confirm the veracity of some information in this iReport.
    - sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer

    Watching news coverage about Egypt over the past couple of days, you'd think the country was burning, one major news headline actually WAS "Cairo is Burning!" This, along with a 7PM curfew set by the government to attempt to control the violence, has led many to stay at home, glued to their TV's.

    Had it not been for the fact that I was leaving for New York in two days (more on that below), I probably would not have ventured outside my New Cairo home for any reason. This desire to stay home was made stronger by an incident that happened in our quaint little suburban neighborhood yesterday morning. Repeated gunshots that we heard from our home turned out to be the result of a drive-by shooting that attacked a police checkpoint outside our compound. The checkpoint [shown empty this morning in the photo above] is one of many permanent points installed at entrances to Cairo's suburbs, and is usually manned by an officer and one or two policemen. According compound security, a car drove by yesterday morning, shooting at the checkpoint, resulting in the death of a policeman and the injury of the police officer.

    Before that shooting yesterday morning, I ventured further outside Cairo to what would be considered an upper-class food court to meet a colleague. I was shocked at the normalcy of life going on there. People seemed unaffected, even unconcerned, with all that was going on in downtown Cairo and all over Egypt. It's important to note here that most Egyptians were glad to see the pro-Morsi sit-in dispersed, many even see the current violence as inevitable, I was just surprised to see so many go about their normal lives so nonchalantly. This morning I had to go out to run a couple of errands closer to downtown Cairo. Expecting to see a deserted ghost town, I was shocked to see that East Cairo (most events yesterday and today have been further downtown and in the West side of Cairo) was as normal as could possibly be under the circumstances. While the image of a Cairo that's burning is definitely true for the neighborhoods where violence has broken out after pro-Morsi marches attempted to start more armed sit-ins, neighborhoods that are further from the events go very much unaffected. This may not be true of the rest of Egypt, but at least my experience in Cairo shows that not exactly ALL Cairo is burning.

    The main outcome of the events of the past couple of days after the ashes of the burning buildings have cooled down will be an Egypt that is united in its hatred of Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood, and everyone who supports him. While most people, myself included, do not want to see the army back in power, many believe that the army's actions are justified and inevitable. This belief is only made worse by the continued violence carried out by pro-Morsi crowds, who at the same time claim to be the victims. Another main problem is that Muslim Brotherhood leadership has officially said that violence is now "out of control," basically absolving the Brotherhood of responsibly for the actions of its followers on the streets.

    For my part, the events that have engulfed Egypt over the past couple of days are only making my upcoming move to New York much harder. I was stuck in Northern Ireland during the January 2011 revolution while my whole family was in Cairo, so I know the feeling from before. The fear and anxiety felt by Egyptians abroad cannot be described, and media reports of an Egypt that is on the edge of collapse only make it worse. I hope against hope that I get to see this mess end before I leave and believe that, once it's done, the Egyptian government will do all it can to see a peaceful transition into a democracy that is ruled by people who, for a change, actually BELIEVE in democratic principles not just power through a ballot box.
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