Monday, 13 January 2014


These guys hang out round the corner from me, along with the barbed wire, humvees and a couple of tanks. I'm getting used to looking down the barrel of a gun as I walk to the Metro, though most of the time I take the long way round to avoid it. Tomorrow there'll be 350,000 of these little cuties on duty for the voting on Egypt's draft  constitution - just in case there's a spot of bother from someone with an opinion. Hopefully, they'll be like the guys around the corner, making tea on the pavement, texting and chatting on their mobiles. But with Egypt's security chief  doing a post 9/11 George Bush v Al Qaeda, they might not have time for tea.   "I am telling them, (protesters) they will be faced with force, decisiveness and strength never seen before," interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim  said on state TV on Monday. "Everyone rest assured, we are watching your back." 

To show the military-backed government  means business, at least seven peaceful activists from the Strong Egypt party  are now facing  criminal charges, apparently for hanging posters calling for a “no” vote in tomorrow's  referendum.  Ironically, Article 65 of Egypt’s draft constitution states that “[a]ll individuals have the right to express their opinion through speech, writing, imagery, or any other means of expression and publication.” It's a bit like giving someone who's broke a £50 note and then telling them its counterfeit. 

Foriegners have either left Cairo or are barricading themselves in for the two day referendum with chocolate and movies. The city itself is quiet, although there are an awful lot of dogs barking. Shops closed early and the streets are emptier than usual. For some reason, I keep hearing this sentence in my head, much quoted by my mum, "If only I had learnt to say No, I wouldnt be in this mess."

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