Friday, February 4, 2011

The fiyl* in the room

The last week and a half has been an interesting one in the Middle East. In what amounts to an unprecedented wave of popular unrest, crowds of ordinary people have challenged established regimes across the region... and won.

Tunisia's Zine Ben Ali is long gone. Yemen's Ali Abudullah Saleh has said he won't run for the presidency again when his term expires.

And Egypt. Oh, Egypt. I have been trying to figure out what, exactly, I wanted to write about the situation there. It has been uplifting to see so many people get involved, asking directly for change in a regime that has the window-dressing of a democracy but the innards of a harsh autocracy.

It has also been saddening, at times, to see evil acts unfold in places where we have actually been and recognize. Mrs. Blog, I, and my parents walked through Al Tahrir Square (and by walked, I mean frantically looked for a way to cross the impossibly busy street) after getting off a train one afternoon. The day before, we had dodged hustlers on the same stretch of sidewalk near the Egyptian Museum where protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at each other this week:

Wednesday night.

So much anger and hostility. I don't know how things will turn out, but I hope the throngs of people who have repeatedly gathered this week in Cairo and Alexandria are able to use their sheer mass to bring about change and a better life for their countrymen.

*Elephant, as pronounced in Arabic

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