Kairo etter Mubarak

Michael J Totten

Cairo isn’t get­ting on my ner­ves as much as it did the last time I was here. The key, I think, is to have low (or at least appro­priate) expectations.

The first time I visited this city I arrived here from Bei­rut. Leba­non is like the Star Trek uni­verse com­pared with Egypt. (Mean­while, Egypt is Star Trek com­pared with Iraq, and Iraq is Star Trek com­pared with Afgha­ni­stan. I don’t know where a place like Soma­lia fits on this scale.)

Some of the wealt­hiest parts of this city look like the drea­riest sec­tions of communist-era Roma­nia. At the same time, though, I’m fin­ding it slightly easier to find a decent res­tau­rant and an aet­he­ti­cally pleas­ing café to hang out in. The eco­nomy does seem to have advan­ced somewhat in the years I’ve been away, at least in the richer parts of the city. (The poorer neigh­bor­hoods look just as bru­tally run-down as they did before, and they’re pro­bably suf­fe­ring more now that the post-Mubarak eco­nomy is on the skids.)

Here’s somet­hing that’s unusual in the Arab world: there are no pos­ters of a dicta­tor any­where. The govern­ment is a mili­tary junta, but it’s not entirely clear which indi­vi­dual is in charge of this place. It feels like nobody is.

Hardly any tou­rists are here right now. Poli­ti­cal tur­moil has dri­ven all but the har­di­est and most advent­ur­ous away, though this isn’t Dama­scus where the regime is machine-gunning dis­si­dents by the hund­reds. And it seems the touts who prey on for­eign visi­tors have given up and are stay­ing home because I am not being hass­led on the street nearly as much as I was a few years ago. Almost eve­ryone I’ve met so far, from my hotel staff to my inter­view sub­jects, is excep­tio­nally polite and plea­sant to be around. Arabs are taught good man­ners by their parents and their cul­ture, and Egypt, now that most of the touts have craw­led back under their rocks, feels more gentle and wel­coming than it did before.

We’ll see if I still feel the same way after han­ging out with thou­sands of revolutionaries—including the Mus­lim Brot­her­hood and the Salafists—in Tahrir Square.

I’ll have some in-depth repor­ting for you here shortly after I’ve had time to gat­her enough mate­rial. Until then, please remem­ber that I don’t have a salary or an expense account and can’t do this at all wit­hout your sup­port, so please pitch in what you can. This isn’t the most expen­sive place to visit, but it’s not free either.

You can make a one-time dona­tion through Pay Pal:

Docu­ment har copy­right på Tot­tens artik­ler, og har betalt for det. Om leserne vil støtte Tot­tens jour­na­lis­tikk er det vel­kom­ment. Han er en av de beste.

Cairo After Mubarak

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