Nasty turn

It has been a day of people heading for Tahrir, either physically or in spirit. The call went out for a million to join the demonstration and streams of Egyptians headed down the surrounding streets to the square. I passed students, doctors, middle aged couples and businessmen in suits all walking quietly and purposefully.

We’ve been watching and experiencing the build of tension and drama, since the first peaceful demonstration on Friday to the gassing, beating and deaths of the last 3 days.

Yesterday. I went down to the square mid-morning with my colleague here, Nick.

I wanted to see what it was like and at that time it was pretty quiet but with lots of restless eddies of people. We quickly got surrounded by a group of teenage boys, who got out of hand. I was thoroughly manhandled and got a bit of a scare really. A quick lesson in crowd mentality. We got pulled out by some older Egyptian men, and no harm done.

Talking to people, they all want progress and they all want the elections to go ahead. EVERYONE says they are going to vote. The desire for some sort of system to be put in, so that Egypt can get on with dealing with the real problems it faces, is universal. Two words in Arabic that you hear above all others here are Nizam – which means system and Thiqqa – which means trust.

The general who holds power here, Tantawi, responded to the demands of the demonstrators tonight. He offered a firm date for Presidential elections, and a referendum on the immediate transfer of power if demanded.

It’s not clear yet – as crowds still fill the square – if this will be enough. For me, it is off back to blighty tomorrow and the peace of the Peak District! I’ll be watching closely, though, and hoping the Egyptian people get the good government they deserve.

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