Today I went to a town only 23 kilometers south of Tahrir Square. The plan was to see if the 11-day uprising in Egypt has produced any benefits so far – just by way of finding something different from the insecurity and chaos in Cairo. Kirdasa, a small town known for its flower nurseries and handmade crafts sold to tourist, was where I went. Here’s what I found out:
1- People do not get enough sleep as many have to patrol the streets at night to protect themselves and families against ex-cons apparently set free by the police force that disbanded itself after its failure to crush the pro-democracy movement on Saturday.
2- There are no tourists to buy the handmade products. The nurseries business was never for foreigners in the first place but is negative as very few Egyptians are in the mood to buy flowers now.
3- The town lost five people to the unrest who died by police fire during two days of protests.
1- Morale is high because there’s a sense of achievement and realization that residents can change things themselves. The locals drove the police force out which is by far the largest change in the town in its history, some elders told me.
2- The imam of the main central mosque, who had to submit his sermon every week in the past to the much-feared secret police (Amn Dawla) for approval, didn’t have to do that for the first time in many many years. He celebrated this fact on the pulpit today during his Friday sermon. He celebrated being able to preach for the first time without surveillance or spies writing reports against him. He thanks the young people who made that change possible.
3- A huge sense of liberation and freedom by the drivers of the privately owned mini-buses, an essential profession in the busy town. Many said the police used to force the drivers to take officers and security staff to their destinations for free. Those who objected risked being framed in criminal cases, verbally and physically abused. Everybody was happy police’s been gone.
4- People are confident business will soon come back and may even be better after Mubarak leaves, they said, because they will elect their own parliamentary elections. Elected leaders will work and plan more efficiently for business. They clearly have high expectations for the future.