When the demonstrations began in Cairo, communication with the staff at our newest distribution partner, American University in Cairo Press was immediately disrupted. AUCP editorial director Neil Hewison has been sending dispatches to update us on events and the state of the Press itself – which is situated close to Tahrir Square. We continue to wish our colleagues in Cairo well, and hope to continue receiving periodic updates from Neil in the days ahead. You can read his previous story here.
The protesters are standing firm, and are not impressed by the concessions the government is offering. Yesterday we watched the growing line—halfway back onto the Qasr al-Nil Bridge—of people queuing to get through the double security cordon (army first, protesters’ popular committee volunteers next) into Tahrir Square. The first thing that struck me was that people were prepared to stand in line to join the protest: standing in line is not a common phenomenon in Egypt—people normally form a scrum, and push—but here they were lining up (in the rain), flags and banners in hand, for their right to protest. The second thing was the diversity: a lot of young men, to be sure, but also many young women (many veiled, some not), and older women, older men, and children of all ages—and from all social levels.
In the meantime, our offices, on the old Downtown Campus of the AUC, overlooking Tahrir Square, are even less accessible than they were last week, as the security cordon on Mohamed Mahmoud Street has slipped back beyond the University gate. Nobody knows when we’ll get back into our offices, but we continue to work as best we can from home, and now we have regular meetings in the AUC building in Zamalek, an affluent neighborhood on an island in the Nile, where, if you didn’t have satellite TV, you would hardly know a revolution was going on in Downtown Cairo, just across the bridge: here, stores and coffeeshops are open, people and cars fill the streets, and there’s not a looted storefront or burned-out vehicle to be seen.