A mother with child watches protesters gather in Tahrir Square yesterday. (Photo: MSNBC)
This morning I had an opportunity to conduct an impromptu interview with Ahmed Moor in Cairo by Skype. He was just returning from Tahrir Square and offers his take on the day’s events, and where things seem to be headed in Eqypt. I hope to conduct similar interviews in coming days.
Listen here (you might need Quicktime, and it might take a bit to load, sorry for the technical difficulties):
Here is a rush transcript of Moor’s comments:
Q. Is ElBaradei mentioned on the street?
There is a unity of purpose [of ousting Mubarak], in every protest and gathering I’ve been to. Just today I’ve been hearing that ElBaradei is a viable alternative, but that’s from just a few people on the street… One man said to me, Now is not the time for us to be thinking who’s next.
Q. A vision of what the day after looks like?
What I’ve been hearing is that people expect the army to step in and quiet things down before elections take place. There is an expectation that elections will take place. That’s the next step.
Q. The scene?
Today, noon. 10-15,000 people at Tahrir Square. A celebratory sense. People are still very angry. They feel, Really there is no going back. There are no gains to consolidate yet, but there’s a feeling that things are going to change. The army has created a safe space. You see lots of small children. This is a space where we can gather to vent our frustrations. The city is quiet everywhere, but large gatherings in Tahrir Square.
Q. The call for a million-person protest tomorrow?
It’s definitely possible. Walking around Tahrir Square it was something that people are talking about. There is now security around the city… Large groups of vigilantes roaming the streets, setting up checkpoints. I passed thru 20 vigilante checkpoints just walking from Tahrir Square to Zamalek after curfew the other night. Even 100,000 people is only half a percent of the city’s 17 million population. So 1 million is credible to me.
Q. The looting?
The looting I saw was minimal in the city. I saw street battles with police late into the city Friday night, which made it impossible to cross the bridges or get around the city. Burning tires. Neighborhoods shut down. The looting is largely rumored. I did hear some of the reports that looters were affiliated with the muhabarat. I wouldn’t be surprised. They [the government] were creating a sense of chaos…
Q. Does the US come up as an issue?
What’s been surprising about this is the intense focus on one issue, Mubarak ouster. 99 percent of the flyers, the chants, the placards are all about that theme. I’ve seen a handful related to the U.S. They’re more sarcastic, where’s Obama and his democracy agenda. This is an Egyptian revolution, people are talking about Egypt and what to do next. Maybe part of that is that we don’t have access to outside media now…
There’s not a lot of attention being paid to what’s happening in America. This is an Egyptian revolution. The takeaway– I want to emphasize.. you haven’t seen anti-Americanism in the streets.
As for the message to communicate, this is a society wide program for change. This is not the Muslim brotherhood, this isn’t a group of intellectuals or even youth. I know this has been branded a youth movement. …It’s true that it started with the youth, but coming from Tahrir Square now I can tell you that every segment of society is represented and represented in force. This isn’t a movement that’s being dominated by any one group of society. And I think you can see that by how the Muslim Brotherhood has thrown itself behind Mohammed ElBaradei who does appear to be a kind of figure who’s acceptable to the international community and domestic Egyptians.