- Posted March 9, 2013 by
Life goes on for majority of Egyptians
The first thing I did when I arrived in Egypt two weeks ago was visit Tahrir Square at 1:00 a.m. I had two Egyptian men with me and the people camped out in the square sent curious glances my way occasionally but never spoke to me or even approached me. Their anger is not directed at foreigners; it is saved for the government and the slow pace of change after their hard-fought victory in the 25 January revolution of 2011.
When I left the upper class Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo, traffic moved at a crawl because protesters had closed down one of the major bridges. As my taxi inched past the turmoil from one bridge over, I saw a car in flames and people walking around it listlessly. My taxi swerved around a flaming pile of something in the middle of our road and we went on our way.
This is the new normal in Egypt: another day, another revolution. It is part of the background scenery as normal life goes on for the vast majority of people. In Alexandria, I have driven past multiple small protests that the locals consider an annoyance and nothing more. They crane their necks and say, "Fuel shortage. The drivers are angry. Why can't they protest on the sidewalks so the cars can still pass?"
The beaches of Sharm el Sheikkh are like a ghost town as tourists are scared off by images of burning buildings and small crowds shouting threats in the capitol city. "You're the first American I've seen in years," said two different people to me as I sat in cafes and sipped tea with my friends.
Situated on the southernmost tip of the volatile Sinai Peninsula, Sharm el Sheikh is a peaceful haven for many Europeans and people from all over the Middle East. Security forces are widespread but the general tone of the city is vibrant and cheerful.
Protests will continue as long as the youth of Egypt feel unfulfilled in their dreams. Their dreams are not extravagant: a good job and a family. In other parts of the world, people recognize these things as basic human rights, but for the majority of Egyptians, these two things are a Quixotic quest.
So the protests continue, but they do not define life in Egypt. Children still play in shopping malls, lovers still kiss in the shadows to avoid being seen by the police, and mothers still prepare fish over gas stoves for the few tourists that take time to come and immerse themselves in this beautiful culture.