Classes today took place on AUC’s campus in Zamalek, an island in the middle of the Nile, since the Tahrir campus was busy being mildly attacked and then looted.
In the meantime, I enjoyed sitting on the couches in an environment not unlike a hotel lobby, watching the madness of Tahrir on a big screen television during breaks between classes. Only a five minute walk from that square, one of my friends has been holed up since Saturday, forced to listen to gunshots, finish his homework, and watch TV all day while catching the occasional whiff of tear gas. It’s amazing the difference a couple of miles can make.
I could talk about current situation in Tahrir, about how over 30 people have died and over 1000 have been wounded, about the resignation of the civilian government and the short-lived cheering in Tahrir that was silenced by increased gunfire from police and security forces, about the kind of tear gas being used that is both new and particularly vicious, about the hopelessness I saw in the eyes of my Arabic teacher as she said it was now clear the military has won, about the desperate calls for medical supplies and food down in the square, about the use of live ammunition against protestors throwing rocks, about the contradicting news reports and constant confusion about what’s actually happening on the ground etc. But I’m not really qualified to do so. If you’re interested, Al-Jazeera has a live blog that’s good, though sensational at times. It is not a terrorist organization like I thought it was in high school. The Guardian also has good coverage.
But I can say some things that rely little on fact: A classmate today reminded me that even though (as of then) 20 people had died in Tahrir, about that many die every day in Assad’s continuing assault on his citizens in Syria. It struck me as particularly sad that the value of lives could differ so much in their recognition across borders.
There was a song that Conan O’Brien used to sing on his show during election times and it went a little like this, “Yay boo yay boo it’s lots of fun to do! If you like it holler yay. If you don’t you holler boo.” There’s been quite a bit of yaying and booing going on about whether or not the protestors are doing right or if they’re just messing everything up by fighting for freedom. But regardless of how you feel about that issue, the reality is that people have died and others are injured. Their lives should not be considered worthless, even if you don’t agree with the cause they died for.
I, and many others, hope the violence comes to an end, but I hope it does not come at the expense of the dream of Egyptian democracy, and dignity should certainly not be a casualty as well.