Our travels took us to Egypt at a very interesting time. Although many people here in the US think the revolution is over, democracy has won and everything is fine, we saw something completely different. This is very much a country caught in transition and power struggles. Through our contact at UN Women we were fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a rally at Tahrir Square - actually the same day that protesters later stormed the Israeli Embassy. The protest was calm and organized. People were there to speak out against the inequity of the trial system. All protesters who were arrested during the revolution are subject to military trials while Mubarak and his associates are being tried in civil courts. Civil trials allow for the person to appeal the sentence while in military trials the verdict is final. This rally ended with the protesters marching to judicial buildings so the people who attacked the Israeli Embassy arrived and formed following this demonstration. The burnt out building in the picture used to house many women oriented organizations including UN Women. It was burned during the revolution because it was adjacent to Mubarak's party headquarters. Nothing has been done to rebuild it, in fact the remains of numerous destroyed cars still reside in the parking structure below the building. The pink colored building is the Egyptian Museum, home to many, many priceless Egyptian antiquities including the King Tutankhamun treasures. The people we spoke to were all very thankful that the museum survived the unrest.
Since our time in Cairo, further demonstrations and rallies have taken place in Aswan and Cairo. As you have seen in the news of the past week, these demonstrations have turned deadly for the civilian protestors yet again. In the deadliest eruption of violence since the ouster of President Mubarak, it has been reported that 24 people were killed and over 200 were wounded in a protest on October 9th that began when tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians escalated over the construction of a Christian church in the Southern city of Aswan, a city we visited a few weeks earlier.
In Cairo, these tensions escalated quickly and were exacerbated by the growing public distrust of military authority and the military's delay in relinquishing power. The military is now claiming that the violent protests proves that the government and country must remain under military control and that the national elections will be post-poned indefinitely. For the people of Egypt the revolution is far from over and it seems their desire for democracy and full representation will take longer than most thought and many had hoped.