Egypt Referendum Vote

Some of the series of events and information I witnessed related to Egypt’s referendum vote

Timeline (all times are Cairo – 10 hours ahead of Kelowna, BC)

Thursday, December 13, 2012 – Arrive in Cairo

  • 7:56pm – Presidential Palace warning – told in no uncertain terms by my host, not to visit the area of the Presidential Palace
  • 8:00pm – arrival in downtown Cairo – the usual late night traffic jams and massive bustling crowds fill the streets and sidewalks of downtown Cairo
  • 9:30pm – word of a concert in Tahrir Square
  • Friday, December 14, 2012 – Day before vote

  • 10:00am – many main tourist sites are empty – this is good for tourists in the country. Horrible for the many that rely on the money as a means of living. A tour guide says this is because tourists are scared of last year’s revolution and the current unrest around the referendum
  • 12:00pm – noon prayers – after noon prayers, supposedly many crowds are suppose to be heading to Tahrir Square
  • 2:00pm – a crowd of only a few tens of thousands in Tahrir Square
  • 3:15pm – Meet Sheriaf – a younger fella who took part in Egypt’s 2011 Tahrir Square protests. Camped for three days in the square. Carried three dead bodies during the last revolution, and was shot himself. Due to this, and the fact he feels nothing has changed since the last revolution (“It’s the same f****** ministers as before, in the same jobs. How can things change? Just a different President. The same old s***.) doesn’t really care about this referendum. (Do many Egyptians feel this way?)
  • 4:00pm – Nile River boardwalk is relaxed – the boardwalks along the Nile River are dotted with a mix of locals and tourists. A relaxed, fun atmosphere.
  • 4:50pm – a local stops us to tell us it’s not safe to be walking in the area – we are about 8 blocks from Tahrir Square
  • 4:58pm – young male adults running down the middle of oncoming traffic towards Taharir Square
  • 9:15pm – calm downtown – the streets of downtown are ‘calm’ (e.g., no protests, but absolutely packed with cars and people)
  • 9:17pm – tasers – there are three street booths in one block selling tasers. Not sure if this is a norm or for protestors to use/defend with during tomorrow’s protests
  • 9:20pm – possibly unsafe – I am warned by my host it may be more wise to not return to Tahrir Square tonight (he notes I am Anglo-Saxan and do not speak Arabic so I easily stand out in the square and therefore an easy target for anyone looking for mischief)
  • 9:37pm – return home – after the local’s and my host’s warnings, decide to head back for the night
  • Saturday, December 15, 2012 – Day of referendum

  • 10:52am – conversation with an Egyptian – “It’s about my freedom. Our freedom. My brother’s freedom. We were told everyone would be equals [after the revolution]. We didn’t support Morsi when he was elected after the revolution, but we want democracy so we had to accept the result. We were told 100 days and we would hear about all the changes. After 100 days we marched back to Tahrir Square. We were told it would be another month before changes are announced. Now this [the proposed constitution]
  • 11:13am – Head for Tahrir Square
  • 11:39am – arrive at Tahrir Square
  • 11:49am – Tahrir Square calm – the square is filled with tents. Some of the roads leading into the square are blocked off with barbed wire and logs. Only a few thousand people – no major rallies
  • 12:42pm – wandering Cairo – as if a referendum isn’t happening today
  • 3:16pm – voting stations orderly – saw a few voting station line ups. Seems orderly and good behaviour, but lines extremely long (heard of 3-4 hour waits)
  • 5:12pm – square is quiet – Tahrir Square is much fuller than earlier today Nothing violent or unruly
  • 6:58pm – security presence – just heard over 200,000 soldiers and police officers are deployed in the city today
  • 7:47pm – yelling downtown – a few younger males can be heard yelling in Arabic in the streets
  • 8:08pm – return for the evening – host says should be safe if i stay out except that I am a young male so could be thought of as a protestor by police. Decide a long safe day is a good way to end the day
  • 8:38pm – some violence – heard that a building set on fire and some shootings in some parts of Egypt. Downtown Cairo is calm
  • 11:08pm – voting extended – just heard voting had been extended from 7:00pm until 11:00pm. Government says due to turn out. Locals say because of the boycott by judges who normally watch over polling stations so only a fraction of polling stations actually open
  • Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • 3:17pm – conversation with Christian Egyptian – had a conversation with Sammy, a native of Egypt. Christians make up about 10% of Egypt. “If the new constitution comes in, I will ha pre to leave. I will go to another country where I will be treated nicely (and fairly). The new constitution is too Islamic. Not good for Christians. I was an Engineer before the revolution. Now I am just a driver. I think there will be another revolution soon – more blood.”
  • End of timeline

    Celebrations

    Saturday evening, some Egyptians were celebrating. After all the promised changes after the revolution, many are subdued and will wait until next Saturday, after the rest of Egypt votes (Cairo and Alexandria voted on December 15) on Saturday, December 22. They do not want to get their hopes up as they have been promised things before.

    Background

    In 2011, many Egyptians rallied and protested against the national government. Then President, Hosni Mubarak was removed. In June 2012, new Islamic Mohammed Morsi came to power, to lead the change to a more democratic, more Western democracy. Last month, he gave himself ultimate powers that where out of reach of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court. The new draft constitution he proposed has divided the country that became united during the 2011 revolution.

    Some locals are happy with the draft. Many say it will hurt women’s rights and open the door of legal matters being determined by church and religious leaders in Egypt.

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    5 Comments

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    1. I so would love to go on a trip with you Adam……you see, hear and feel so much more then the average person would !! Continue to keep safe……I LOVE reading you Blog !! Love ya xooxoxox

    2. Sounds like a pretty intense time to be in Egypt. I am sure it will give you a different perspective upon your journey home. Stay safe lil brother!

    3. Quality content is the main to invite the users to go to
      see the site, that’s what this site is providing.

    4. Memories from a few months ago – was like walking through my own dream.

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