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Egypt: 'Nothing will satisfy the protestors'

A scarved, pious Muslim woman comments profoundly, "Nothing will satisfy the protestors. Even if Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, came down to them from heaven and did things his perfect way, they won't be satisfied. Nothing will appease them."

In Egyptian/Muslim terms, this is almost blasphemy. No one can place Prophet Mohammed on par with regular and ordinary human beings. However, this is an explicit manifestation of the level of frustration this woman feels. Many Egyptians share her sentiments.

By the same token but in total contrast, Egyptian protestors are totally dissatisfied with the state of affairs in Egypt: the atrocities, the transparency void, and the disarray.

These two groups are far apart in their expectations and courses. The difference between them -- and between the many factions in the middle -- is an explicit depiction of the state of affairs in Egypt today.

After the Port Said massacre, where over 70 Egyptians died futile and wasteful deaths, Egyptians walked in a daze. They could hardly believe what had happened. Egypt was never a bloodthirsty country; its revolution had been a peaceful one. Its football fans, though avid loyalists, never resorted to deliberate and malicious violence—at most, insults and fist fights.

How come young men had their necks wrung, while others were trampled upon during the stampede out of the stadium because the doors were sealed shut? How come, they ask.

Though Egyptians still went about their business, you could sense the anguish in their tears, shed and unshed. A halo of misery engulfed them. And the queries and questions are still unanswered a week after. Why? By whom? And to whose benefit? As long as these questions remain unanswered, blame is quick to form and mushroom into a frenzy of hatred -- and, of course, hearsay thrives in such an ambience.

Consequently, protestors are back in the streets yet again. Riots around the Ministry of Interior have caused thousands of injuries and some fatalities. The Egyptian masses respond by fluctuating amongst many extremes. One extreme is calling for a retaliatory general strike, or what some call civil disobedience, on February 11, in commemoration of Hosni Mubarak’s ousting. This would easily bring Egypt to a standstill. The other extreme is urging the forces to be firmer with the protestors, to detain them swiftly to end the riots -- an action that could have happened in Mubarak's days but definitely not today.

Then there are the conspiracy theorists. "Those in Tora prison -- Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, the ex-Minister of Interior, and several of his assistants -- are behind this disaster," says one faction. So SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) relocates the prisoners to various prisons just in case the detainees are plotting ominously. The other group is absolutely sure that SCAF, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, is the instigator. To them, SCAF remains loyal to Mubarak and continues to jeopardize Egypt’s future by causing these horrendous catastrophes that seem to occur every now and then.

But even more sides to this dilemma exist. There are those who think Egyptians have gone astray -- that, with the revolution, Egyptians have come to mistakenly consider anarchy freedom. Their right, way, and ideology must be fulfilled; if this means that others are shunned and marginalized, it is a non-issue. Others believe that hooliganism has emerged like an erupting volcano, spewing angry fumes all over the peaceful land of Egypt.

These are all fine hypotheses, for everyone has a right to his/her own opinion in today’s Egypt. But these views have escalated to an extremely volatile level. Egyptians have turned against one another at the grassroots level -- amongst family members, neighbours, and friends -- and the institutional level -- amongst the government, SCAF, the National Assembly, religious affiliations, political parties, and of course revolutionists. These colliding forces have impacted Egypt as a whole. All extremes exist. Top all this with a media that has found its voice, and you get a concoction that spells danger.

Still, an online poll was conducted yesterday asking Egyptians: "Will you participate in the civil disobedience discourse taking place on February 11?" Interestingly enough, those who affirmed their participation were under 20 percent. I don't know how many will close shop, stay home, refuse to drive buses, or fly planes on Saturday, February 11; it is all up in the air.

A dangerous and dilapidated state is the state of Egypt today.

Capilano University communications professor Dr. Azza Sedky is spending the winter in Cairo. She often posts to her blog Egypt.

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