13 February 2011
While there were long curfew hours in Cairo and difficult traffic conditions, I had to walk around extensively. Apart from it being good exercise, it gave me an excellent opportunity to sense how the man in the street feels about the situation. Cairenes had not yet been able to go back to work regularly, and there were valid fears for loss of livelihoods. Especially for the thousands who worked in the tourist or contracting sectors, the prospects were bleak.
“Enough is enough,” one young workman said. “We want to go back to work; so many people are losing their livelihood in the midst of all this turmoil. The demonstrators down in Tahrir have no idea what we have lost. They are too young and headstrong to feel our losses. As for change, Mubarak has already implemented a new Cabinet which promises to listen to the people. That’s good enough for me.”
A man who looked in his forties and sat at a sidewalk café lamented the shortage of bread and the spiralling prices. “How can we cope?” he asked. “With a family and so many mouths to feed, how am I supposed to manage? Isn’t that exactly what these demonstrations were all about? Yet, look at us now. We’re much the worse off for them. Security is diminished, crime is up, and jobs promise to be scarce. What’s the point in more demonstrations? It’s a matter of a few months and there will be presidential elections. A new president may be elected then.”
As I passed a group of women sitting by the Qasr al-Aini hospital, they too were calling for an end to the demonstrations. They considered the new Cabinet and the promise for reform change enough. Now they needed work and security. “Enough destruction,” one of them said. We need work, and this country has to be rebuilt.”
Demonstrations, albeit small ones, roamed the streets of Giza in support of President Mubarak. “If you love Egypt, don’t destroy Egypt,” the demonstrators chanted.