Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt Revolutionary Memoirs - how it all started for us 14 days ago.

Revolution. Sat 29th Jan

14:50 I am sitting on my porch reading when I hear the sound of gunfire coming from the south I think. We had just got home from a kids party at the bowling alley, and as we came on to the Corniche (riverside road) we saw a tank parked at the junction with the bypass road alongside Digla. The party was cut short because they suddenly announced that the curfew set up yesterday had been brought forward to 4pm so we had to leave the bowling alley at 2pm. We also had to cancel our church service tonight for the same reason.

Lots of shots being fired. Some very loud and some quiet and further off. It sounds like a serious exchange of fire between the two kinds of weapons..

14:55 the gunfire continues. Then all is quiet again.

15:10 the call to prayer. As soon as it finishes, more gunfire. The loud kind. I later discover that this is army heavy calibre rifles and that we are to become very familiar with this noise.

16:15 another short burst of gunfire. Curfew was 15 mins ago but there are still vehicles in the streets and the metro is still running.

16:30 two much bigger louder pops. You could almost feel them in your gut.

16:45 more sporadic gunfire from further away. Sat on the porch watching and listening to a big flock of swallows wheeling and swooping over the house in the light of the setting sun.

Let me recap on yesterday a little...

Fri 28th. This was the day of the first huge protests in Midan Tahrir: the day of rage. We went to church as usual. We had decided to abandon the planned sermon, part of our series on Galatians, so at 5:40pm just as we finished the worship and Steve got up to lead a special time of prayer and intercession for Egypt, a National Security police guy came in and told us to shut down as they had decided to impose a 6pm curfew. Steve continued to pray as we packed up the stage and put the equipment away and then, not really knowing what else to do, and feeling a little nervous, we all went home. And that was the last we saw of the Egyptian police for several days!

We cooked and had dinner with our neighbours, the Himes, and read Isaiah 19 together, God's future for Egypt. Then we went next door to Hans and Kitty's to watch the news on Al Jezeera. We stayed till about 22:30 and came home. So apart from the curfew and the general sense of escalation of troubles and unease, nothing really felt particularly different.

So that was Friday.

Back to Saturday evening. What a crazy night. All the neighbours are out on the street on guard against the threat of bad guys who might be out and about. I am taking the shift till 3:30am and then Toby will get up and take over from me. We have pulled out my Weber barbecue from the garden and set it up in the driveway to make a fire to keep us warm. White plastic garden chairs have appeared from all around and various neighbours I have never met before will wander over to sit down and talk for a while.

Someone brings out a tray of tea (the posh fruity flavoured kind) and someone else brings out a cake. One lady jokes that all we need is some meat for the grill and the tv on, and then we would really be having a street party!

There has been all kinds of gunfire and red tracer bullets in the air, visible down the street.  Since the police have all run away, the army are gradually taking charge of the security in Cairo, but of course they won't come to our area in any force so we are self policing.

Everyone in the street is armed to the teeth. Lots of people have big heavy sticks, but we start making a list of all the weapons we see and they include; pistols, rifles, shotguns, an AK47, knives, whips, axes, golf clubs, baseball bats, a Samurai sword, a garden rake. I have a hammer. A really good hammer.

At about 22:00 three baddies came over the ramp bridge above the metro line, but the neighbourhood watch guys at the end of the road opened fire with their shotguns, sent two packing, captured the third and tied him up; these bad guys are discovered to be policemen intent on causing trouble!!!

00:50 Prisoners escaping from the local jail are running along the metro line letting off shots as they go. Very exciting. Lots of the young men in the street are jumping around and running and brandishing sticks but nothing really happens.

1:00 am. I am sitting round the fire on the driveway with Ramsy, Karim and the boab from next door and Ahmed from over the road. Various rumours are going round, breathlessly delivered by men from the next street or anyone walking by:

Gangs have stolen ambulances and are roaming Nasr City with machine guns telling people to get off the streets and go home or they will attack, rob and rape.

Thousands of prisoners have escaped in Cairo and Fayoum. Who knows where they are or what they are going to do.

02:00. After the initial excitement things have become a little boring. All conversation around our fire is in Arabic so I zone out a little.

03:30. Toby relieves me and I retire to bed. Tomorrow will be another eventful revolutionary day and I need my strength.

Posted via email from Jafferblog


Matt Edmundson said...

Loving the hammer! It does look like a really good one.

David said...

Where'd you get that Weber grill?