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Updates from Egypt

Just talked to Tom again. He attended the inaugural session of the Popular Parliament this morning, a group of Egypt’s political opposition groups that have come together. It is associated with the National Association for Change, of which Mohamed El Baradei is the president and Dr. Ayman Nour is member of. The meeting, which began at noon, was chaired by Dr Abdulmina Al-Turkey. Each member present spoke for three minutes on what they believe should be done. Tom reports that there were at least 50 or 60 individuals present, including  those representing the Wafd party, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Ghad party. The parliament also includes a number of former Egyptian parliamentarians, who were run out of office in the corrupt elections in November. A notable person present was a prominent writer, Alaa El Aswany, who said that the parliament is trying to support the people. He stated that, “what we are trying to do now is just help. They (the youth who led the movement) are going to produce their own leaders”. He also can be quoted saying, “the army is our pride”. The entire organization elected a group of 5 individuals to represent The National Association for Change, including El Baradei and Dr. Nour, to attempt to begin negotiations with army leadership.

I noticed that El Baradei and these opposition groups were mentioned on the BBC website covering the unrest in Egypt earlier:

1206 GMT A coalition of opposition groups issue a statement asking Mohamed ElBaradei to form a transitional government. They call on the Nobel Laureate “during this transitional stage, to act in the internal and external affairs of the nation, and to form a temporary government… and to dissolve parliament and draft a new constitution which enables the Egyptian people to freely choose its representatives in parliament and elect a legitimate president.” The statement was signed by the 6 April Movement, the We are all Khalid Said Movement, the National Assembly for Change and the 25 January Movement.

On the same website, El Baradei is quoted as saying “It is loud and clear from everybody in Egypt that Mubarak has to leave today. He needs to leave today… to be followed by a smooth transition [to] a national unity government to be followed by all the measures set in place for a free and fair election.”

If you want to learn more about these opposition movements, I found that The BBC has a concise website describing them, which can be found here: Opposition Groups

When I talked to Tom, the meeting of the Popular Parliament had finished and he was in Tahrir Square, sitting in a cafe with his friend Jesse, who has also been working with CNN. (He assured me he felt very safe despite my worried protests). The cafe is the only place around still open, as most shops and restaurants are currently closed. He says there are military jets and helicopters in the air and that there is a large crowd of people present despite the curfew.

Tom also mentioned that his neighborhood, Zamalek, has been largely untouched by the looting taking place throughout Cairo. He says this is largely due to individuals from the community protecting their homes and shops, tying white cloths on their arms and arming themselves to keep off the looters. Recently, they were joined by police with machine guns and bullet proof vests to help protect the area and maintain order.

On another note, as I have seen on the news, Tom says there is a line of people making a human chain around the National Egyptian Museum in Cairo trying to protect it and its treasures. Let’s hope they can protect it from further looting and  vandalism!

Obviously, Tom is staying quite busy in Cairo. I’ll keep you all updated as I hear more from him!

Nellie

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Aunt Judith
    January 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Glad to hear again that all is well. Having confusion tracking everything through BBC, CNN, etc. But feel interviewing Nour is truly a treasure for T3. Could Nour become the spokesman for change, works for me. And, his age, background and arrest no doubt endear him to citizens.

    Anyway, Tommy take care. Have heard from Aunt Alice and Chuck, both wanting to know, and very happy that you are okay. Have spoken to Xuchi and she gave me the Skype number, but I don’t have a webcam so that is not working, unless someone out there has something to teach me.

    Am thrilled that you did hook up with someone to take your photos. As I said, you have the eye. Take very,very good care of yourself. Being a little nervous is always a good thing in crazy situations that benefit from caution and groundedness.
    Love Aunt Judith

  2. Diana Considine Stewart
    January 30, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Thank you so much for your incredible reporting of Tom’s experiences in Cairo. It is by far better than anything on American TV. How in the world was he allowed to attend the inaugural session of the Opposition’s Popular Parliament? Amazing! And no one on TV is reporting this! It seems Tom’s experiences center around the opposition groups and not what is going on within the gov’t of Mubarak. Is there any word from Egypt about US involvement in helping Mubarak come out of denile and plan a step-down that would allow him to “save-face” and remove himself with dignity? Seems the US could be intrumental in that area of helping the Egyptian people while not seeming to abandon a strategic US ally over the last 30 years. History will be kinder to Mubarak if he “does the right thing” and makes himself look like the “Hero” instead of the villain. Hoping to hear of Tommy’s safe return home soon!

  3. Elizabeth Hofstedt
    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 am

    I knew you could do it! I believe in you T3. This is your time to shine. How wonderful it is that you are a witness to and have the ability to chronicle history in the making. I am rooting for you all the way! Stay safe, but continue to get the GET:) Big hug, Xuchi

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