I do not fear from this uprising but I fear for it.
In the past couple of days, there has been a visible division between those who want to continue the protests until Mubarak steps down and those who are satisfied with the concessions he has made and wish to go back to their normal lives. This division was bound to happen, but Mubarak’s brutality made it happen too soon. After the anti-riot police failed to quell the protests using tear gas and rubber bullets for three days, Mubarak suddenly withdrew all police forces from Cairo and Alexandria. His move was meant to terrorize the cities’ residents—to convince them that the only alternative to his remaining in power is total chaos. However, within hours, neighborhood watch groups emerged, and whatever ambivalence some of them may have felt towards the protests was gone. Left to fend for themselves, even those who were indifferent to the uprising had become part of it. But Mubarak’s second move was more brutal and succeeded in re-dividing Egyptians. After an emotional midnight speech in which he claimed not to have intended to run for re-election for a sixth term, the protestors in downtown Cairo woke up to the surreal experience of pro-government thugs on camel and horseback attacking them with clubs, swords, and Molotov cocktails. Mubarak’s officials and media told Egyptians who were busy defending their own homes away from downtown that the protestors were responsible for the excessive violence and that they were irrationally unresponsive to the government’s “significant concessions.” Hence, a certain disconnect emerged between the protestors in downtown Cairo and Alexandria on the one hand, and their compatriots who were protecting their homes on the other. This divide will probably widen over the next days and weeks, especially as the false idea that the protestors are solely responsible for the deterioration of the situation gains ground.
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