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Cairo, Egypt / Life under Curfew

By January 16, 2014No Comments

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I have lived in Egypt mostly all my life, and have always known it as a country of safety and security, as they call it. It was a very normal practice for any liberal woman to be out in the streets of Cairo until after midnight, and it was so safe. Streets used to be buzzing with life at any time of day or night. You could not tell the difference between the streets at 2 am or 2 pm, they were always just as busy. Cairo, in particular has always been famous for its overwhelming nightlife. But, since the January 25th revolution, every Egyptian’s life has radically changed!

Happy Egyptian faces, which don’t stop laughing or making fun of everything around them, have turned into very gloomy ones. Many families are mourning the death of a son, or a cousin, in one of the riots. Others are worried about their brothers and children who are protesting in the streets. Everyone else is stuck to his TV, following the news or watching one of the non-stop talk shows.

A year ago, under the rule of Mohamed Morsi and Ekhwan (Muslim Brotherhood), most women were uncomfortable leaving their homes. I, myself, almost stopped visiting family members, unless there was an emergency. I started to filter my school visits, I work as an Educational consultant, so that I am not far from home. I make it a point not to visit schools in heavy traffic or dangerous areas. I don’t leave home after sunset. I used to spend a lot of time thinking what to wear before I went to work, trying to think if it was appropriate to those new people living amongst us, but thinking differently and seeing things differently, as well. But after the 30/6 revolution everything changed dramatically; we are back to ourselves, back to our culture, our norms and traditions.

Nevertheless, we have been living under ‘curfew’ for the past 3 months, which means we have to get back home much earlier than usual. Friday, which is the family day here in Egypt, is almost a half-day to us now. Whatever activity you do must stop at 6 pm, because everyone must be home by 7 pm. Traffic, all of a sudden has become a horrible nightmare. Any journey that used to take you half an hour, now takes you at least an hour and a quarter, if you are lucky and can get to your destination, avoiding a sit-in or a march, or a street blockage.

We are still glued to our TVs to follow news of terrorist attacks, here and there. But, honestly, I am not as scared as I was during the past year or more. I now think of it in terms of destiny! So, I am no longer worried to leave home, except for traffic and blockage issues. I don’t think of what to wear before I go out. I think I am coming back to myself, but if only there was no curfew!!!

Azza Elsherbiny

NGO/DPI Executive Committee

Regional NGO Coordinator. Middle East

November 2013

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