News / Middle East

Behind Cairo Barricades, Morsi Supporters Make Most of Camp Life

Children of supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi jump on a trampoline in a makeshift funfair in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, August 11, 2013.
Children of supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi jump on a trampoline in a makeshift funfair in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, August 11, 2013.
Reuters
Children have water fights in the sun while ice cream and soft drink vendors do a roaring trade. The protest camps at the heart of Egypt's political crisis feel more like a village fair than a bastion of resistance to military-backed rule.
 
The thousands of supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, camped out for more than six weeks, know they could soon face a violent eviction, but most seem to be enjoying the sense of community rather than worrying about how the party might end.
 
“We play football, we play ping-pong, we just don't want to get bored. We want this to be a happy atmosphere,” said Talaat Mahmoud, 32, an interior designer who joined protesters around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the biggest of two camps to spring up in Cairo.
 
The camps are the last political card in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has seen its leaders jailed and their assets frozen since the army toppled Morsi on July 3 after mass protests against his rule.

Making the best of it

The protesters have sworn to stay until he is reinstated. Aside from defiant rhetoric and calls for holy war, most seem to be having a good time while the camps expand every day.
 
While elsewhere in the city Morsi supporters were fighting their opponents and being hit with police teargas on Tuesday, at the Rabaa camp, boys ran around with water dispensers strapped to their backs, spraying people and laughing.
 
Despite the Muslim Brotherhood members standing guard with sticks near sandbags or piles of rock, everyone in the camps knows that security forces will have overwhelming firepower if they do decide to force them out.
 
Until then, life goes on at the gatherings, where electricity cables reach most tents. Vendors sell pocket-sized Korans, hairbrushes and plastic toys and a field pharmacy offers antibiotics, eye drops and other medicines for free.
 
“We have the army on our doorstep, but there are no weapons here,” said Salah Mahmoud, 42, as he cheered on young boys playing ping-pong at Rabaa, the biggest camp.
 
Local media have reported that government forces had bolstered security around the camps to prevent weapons from getting in.
 
Fearing a bloodbath
 
Over 300 people have died in political violence since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi toppled Morsi.
 
Fearing a bloodbath, Western envoys and some senior members of the interim government have urged the military to avoid using force to disperse the camps, where ice cream vendors and food and clothes stalls line the streets.
 
The sites have become highly organized communities. Men read the Koran, discuss politics or crack jokes in tents, surrounded by posters of those killed by police and considered martyrs.
 
But there is no sense of siege at Rabaa or the other camp at al-Nahda Square, or worries that supplies will run out. Communal kitchens with brand new refrigerators are feeding the thousands.
 
“Maybe somebody comes and says 'I've brought 100 kg of meat,' so we cook meat,” said Mohamed Mosad Ghitani, an engineer volunteering in one of the kitchens.
“Another day, somebody says 'I've brought 200 chickens', so we cook chicken,” added he.
 
The Rabaa camp cannot expand further.
 
Some entrances are blocked by riot police and army vans or fortifications set up by protesters. So Morsi's supporters are adding floors to the makeshift wooden buildings that have sprung up among the tents.
 
Shop owner Mustafa, 24, is not a protester, but he is enjoying the carnival atmosphere at least as much as those who are.
 
“Business is better in the camp than outside. I sleep here. I'm here every day,” he said, unloading hundreds of cans of soft drinks from a truck.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ali baba from: new york
August 13, 2013 9:17 PM
Egyptian crisis need Egyptian solution. the Egyptian people understand that Muslim brotherhood has no place in politics. since Nasser, the Egyptian solution is rejecting their view. many had been detained for years and it looks that only way to deal with them is the same that general Hamza el bosunis dealt l with them and they need the same treatment


by: William Norman
August 13, 2013 6:29 PM
In political terms, Egypt has been in a downward spiral since the revolution, and downward spirals have an end.. Yes, there are many in Egypt and throughout the Middle East who are very excited about the idea of President Mursi being pushed out of power. Using a street mob to topple a government in such a manner, which will most likely be accompanied by heavy violence, should always be the “nuclear option” (if at all). Should we really believe Egypt needs two such interventions in the span of only two years? Are we to believe this revolution will be so much better than the last one? We have no reason to think so.


Albert Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results. Egyptians would be wise to take note of his words. Repeating the same mistakes will not produce the desired ending. Banging your heads against the wall will not break it down. It's only going to give you a headache, not much different from the ones you have now. New ideas are required. Our Egyptian friends can learn from the example of others.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid