Politics & Policy

Pro-Mubarak Egyptians Speak

Time has a vivid account of an argument between anti-Mubarak protesters and Mubarak supporters (the latter group so far ignored by the media):


“The country is going to go to them!” a man with a gray mustache screamed, implying that the act of praying designated the men as Islamists. “It’s going to go to them! It will be the end of our Egypt!”

“Have some respect while people are praying,” a young female in a hijab told him.

“Hosni Mubarak, Hosni Mubarak,” another man chanted, expressing his support for the beleaguered Egyptian President.

The men continued their prayers, oblivious to the attempts to distract them. Minutes later, they were back on their feet, arguing with what had become a small pro-Mubarak contingent.

A young man in a black corduroy jacket pushed his way through the crowd of several hundred toward the anti-Mubarak group. “Nobody understands anything. The country will fall if Mubarak falls,” he said…

“Really,” screamed a woman in a burgundy abaya and black hijab. “God damn you all, you stupid people. We’ll all starve in less than a week if Mubarak goes. He is stable; we will be at each other’s throats if he leaves.”

Monday’s spontaneous exchange at the bridge between Mubarak supporters and opponents offered a glimpse of the schisms dividing this country of more than 80 million, the Arab world’s most populous.

A young man who had been standing off to the side listening to the melee suddenly stood on the fence separating the Nile from the street and unfurled a handwritten banner that read “I hate ElBaradei,” referring to the Nobel laureate and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who has become the most visible leader in the protest movement.

“Get down, get down,” the anti-Mubarak crowd chanted at him. A teenage boy tried to snatch the banner from the young man’s hand, almost knocking him off his perch and into the Nile. Several soldiers stepped in to ensure the young man’s safety. They asked him to step down, and he obliged. “We don’t want any provocations, please,” a soldier told him.

The cacophony of angry voices was on the rise. The arguments were getting heated.

“You just want Mubarak gone, but you’re not thinking about what happens after,” a tall man in a denim jacket shouted.

“We just want our dignity, that’s all,” somebody responded.

“Can’t you see that you’re only serving to weaken Egypt, and that’s what our enemies want?”

“What enemies? My biggest enemy is Mubarak. He’s my oppressor. He’s the one who has ruined my future.” 

A woman in a brown abaya, hijab and gloves came forward. “What are you all arguing about?” she said, speaking to both groups. “Why don’t you all think about working together for Egypt? Egypt: that’s what you should all be saying, not screaming at each other.”

“Look at it — look at the looting, look at the burned buildings,” a Mubarak supporter told her.

“So what? We will clean it up and rebuild it,” she responded. “What are you getting so angry about? The President will not stay forever.”


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