Sunday, April 10, 2011

.:Dua Puluh Empat:. Post Mubarak Era I

I know I have not been able to post anything this past 3 months. Yeah. I am bad at writing. Do not blame me.

This is post-Mubarak era. Before this, who would dare say that one day, the presidency of this most-populated Middle Eastern country is no longer being held by Mubarak, or its descendant, or even its party and regime? The 25 January Revolution movement is really an eye-opener, not only to the Egyptians only, but the whole world too. It sends a message, the power is belong to rakyat, not to some elites. This I think, shakes off some leaders who have been in power for such a very long time. Yeah. Even BN is afraid. lol.

I don't think it is too late to jot down some of my experience during the revolution period. I may say, the Egypt's 2011 Revolution is perhaps, the most peaceful one compared to another Middle-Eastern countries.

By the end of 2010, Tunisia was the first Arab country to organize rallies and protests to ouster its President Zein Abidin Ali. The protests took its toll, when many of the innocent Tunisian died in clash with the loyal army of the President. The schools and universities were closed, economy was not good with inflation rose, and the stability of the country can no longer being hold, when violence erupted all over Tunisia. By January 2011, Zein Abidin Ali resigned, fled the country, and sought for diplomatic refugees in Saudi proving that the people power can topple the tyrant.

This fueled the Egyptian to gather on Thursday, 25 January 2011, the holiday designated as Police Day, in remembrance of the bravery of the Ismailiyya policemen who fought with Bristish troops 50 years ago. At first the gathering was not that large, though it attracted some thousands of people to gather in the Tahrir Square. The crowds continued to sit in, day or night, enlarged by day when more people joined, demanding the President Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power. The protests were also held in another part of the country, such in Alexandria and Suez.

During this time I could feel the tension caused by this rallies and protests. We had our last day of mid-term exam during these days. As we, the Malaysian students in Mansoura were to organize a trip to South Sinai during winter break after the exam, we were afraid that this would affect the trip, since security measurement was tightened. I was part of the this trip's organizer, and we had a discussion on should we continued with this trip or not. We consulted the Malaysia's Embassy, who gave us permission to go on with the plan.

It was not until Friday, 28 January 2011, mass number of Egyptians flooded to the street, everywhere throughout Egypt. The rallies continued, but in larger scale. The policemen were ordered to monitor the protests, but the context of monitoring exceeded beyond expectation, when these policemen clashes with the people. Internet connection and telephone lines were severed. We the Malaysian students as well as all the Egyptians had no access to the outside world except via TV, and parents and families in Malaysia who children and relatives studied in Egypt started to worry.

We could not even call our friends in Cairo, and SMS services were blocked. This time, we were scared. What would happen to us if this country turned to be violence like Tunisia?

The next Saturday morning, the team and I were doing our last minutes preparation for the trip, when we got the call from the Malaysia's Embassy to cancel the visit. We were devastated, as we had already prepared to go, but not shocked as we know that this might happen.

We discussed on what should we do with all the uncooked food, which should be used during the supposed trip. Then I learned that many of my friends were panic. They made call, in which still unblocked within Mansoura, asking questions on how should they handle the situation, if it got any worse.

Then rumor was spread, saying that prisoners were breaking out from the jails, which later on proved to be true. We were scared to hell to hear this. Suddenly, many mosques made announcement through their PA systems, asking women and children to stay in the house, lock the main gate and men to be out guarding the street. We were even scared to see men holding guns, sticks and woods scouting the street of houses, preparing themselves if any violence erupted, particularly robbery, since the prisoners were on their run.

I remembered, as I was in my friend's house, my passport and my belongings were left in my home. We were told that if anything happened, we would evacuate Mansoura to a safer area. I asked one of my friend to accompany me to go back to my house, because I wanted to take my passport and pack a small bag and then gather back with others in my friend's house.

We walked fast, passing by men guarding the street, when we heard a gun shot. These men then ran toward the source of the shot, and we ran in opposite direction heading my home. I could not described my feeling, hearing a gun shot for the first time in my life.

(to be continued)

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