What follows is a collection of thoughts I had during my flight to Cairo. I'm publishing these as are, without corrections or editing.
Locked in a room in the Berlin nights, it's easy to imagine you're somewhere else. It's hard to imagine the space around your flat as a backyard, a street, a city and finally the county you are in. The darkness of the short hours between ten, when it gets dark, and about three-fourty, the time when the black of night begins to slide into the blue of a sunny new day create a vacuum around the space you are staying in, a state of possibilty and geographic uncertainty.
Once I got in the car with my father I realised this: I'm going back to Cairo, for the second time in the space of six months. I also realise that my official appelation has shifted form “Thawragi” (Revolutionary) to “Baltagi” (Thug). Though this does not bother me personally, it does demonstrate the shift in perception that the Military Junta is try to effect. From being the new hopes and voices of a nation of people having toppled a dictatorial regime in eleven days, the revolutionary youth, even though many of them are definetly not young, have been rebranded as a disruptive element on the fragile state of the nation, which only the military can stop.
Mentally, I have been trying to find a place for myself between Berlin and Cairo, feeling briefly that I had arrived, only to leave again very quickly. I run into the same people in both cities these days- an assortment of frequently travelling artists, designers, journalists and others, in constant fluctuation between cities. News flows both ways, the direct impact of events in Egypt felt by expatriate Egyptian residents of Berlin. Some little events in Berlin have repercussions in Egypt.
The circumstances I return to are different. Egypt has had its bloody presidential elections, a mutation of a farce and a badly played comedy (who is acting badly is still up for debate), the Islamist Morsi seems to have won the hearts and minds of the population that decided to take part in the vote.I'm waiting for the final announcement though, which is widely expected to be rigged so that Ahmed Shafiq will emerge the victor. On the way to Berlin airport, my father tells me that the country is on the verge of a civil war.
In February, the mood was, at first one of despondency at a massacre. Then violent and then worn down. The revoltutionary faction in Egypt is tired. Knowing what they're fighting for, yet not knowing which means to use to fight, or at times too dissolute to react effectively to highly co-ordinated events. After what was dubbed Jan 25 – Part II, the first anniversary of the Tahrir uprisings, a rejuvenated spirit of revoluion had seemed to take over the Egyptian people. The idea of a strike was making the rounds. The strike happened, some people took part, most didn't. I'm sure someone know the full details, but it appears that workers throughout the country were scared into not taking part.
But then again, the one point SCAF and Kapp agree on is the need for industry and an increase in the GDP. People have to eat. To eat, money or agriculture are required. And although, reading me and many other cultural blogs, you may gain the impression that Egypt, specifically Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor have miraculously transformed into artist colonies, very real problems continue to affect decisions and opinions in the country. The artists are the voice of the people, which reach the globe more rapidly than the political and social facts from the ground, and, even though biased, they have become frequent and reliable commenters on current developments.