Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Downtown clashes subside

After a long night and morning of violence in and around Tahrir Square, the fighting between protestors and police died down early Wednesday afternoon. As my roommate Chris put it, the demonstrators didn't have the critical mass to keep it going nonstop. Yet that doesn't mean they're giving up easily.

With hundreds reportedly injured, some protestors have called for a sit-in at the square for an indeterminate amount of time. There was a big protest scheduled for next Friday, July 8, billed as a "Second Day of Rage," the first "Day of Rage" being the first day of the January 25 Revolution. I have a feeling this Friday is going to take its place in terms of its magnitude and significance.

I can't imagine we're going to have classes tomorrow (Thursday). Driving by Tahrir tonight, we saw at least one big tent set up in the middle of the square, indicating that protestors were going to be there for the long haul. Tons of people were milling about.

The tent from the car window, on the way back from a Sufi festival.

Complicating the security situation was a soccer match tonight between two arch rivals, Al Ahly and Zamalek, two Cairo teams with massive, loyal followings. The intense rivalry coupled with the fact that deadly clashes broke out at a big soccer game back earlier this year made for a potentially deadly situation. In light of the Tahrir demonstrations, the authorities almost cancelled tonight's game, but it ended up proceeding with the army reportedly keeping the peace at the stadium.

People packed ahwas (coffeehouses) across Cairo, and -- ilhamdulillah! -- the game ended in a draw. Probably the best possible outcome.

By the way, I've pledged my allegiance to Al Ahly, and I shall now be known as Ben Al-Ahlawi.

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