Cairo After Curfew

It’s really something to be at a party with the young activists who just helped turn the revolution. The protest chants of Tahrir Square are now something like beloved pub songs—–every so often the stereo would cut out and the gathered would break into Al-Shaab / Yureed / Iskut Al-Nizam! (The People / Want / The Fall of The Regime!). And as the refrain repeated it became euphoric—the song was no longer an improbable demand, but an improbable victory lap.

Youtube is already bursting with a entire night’s worth of revolution bangers by Egyptian pop stars. I can’t find the smash hits at the moment… I’ll cruise that internet thing more tomorrow… when these drinks give up their grip. The party spot was decked out with mementos of the past few weeks, including a large portrait of Mubarak with a speech bubble of Arabic script coming from his mouth. (I asked a partygoer, What’s he saying? “Basically he is saying, ‘Fuck you, you citizen motherfuckers’.” –which reminded me of the funny/blunt protest sign: “You are a donkey, you donkey”.) In addition to funked out stencil art of Mubarak, Habib al-Adly, and that V for Vendetta character(?), thrown up on newsprint posters were dozens of stencil-art renditions of Colonel Sanders!!?! I am telling you—-and I’ve said it before—-there’s some wild shit going on in the Egypt psyche w/r/t KFC!!  —– A beautiful lightness filled the party; the state was no longer breathing down collars. Everyone quietly recognizes that now is the interregnum between regimes, and the next will inevitably be plagued by the old entrenched ills & villains…. but all that will be sorted out soon / in the morning.

***

I’ve been interviewing old friends about the ferocious battle that took place in Imbaba Jan 28-29. Of course, the recent episode was not the first time the state had laid siege to the neighborhood: in 1992 the government rolled tanks into Imbaba backed by 12,000 soldiers to root out “terrorists”. But I was reminded today about a much earlier episode. Imbaba was the site where Mameluke soldiers met Napoleon’s army as that brat advanced on Cairo.

As Napoleon sailed for Egypt aboard his flagship L’Orient he composed leaflets announcing that he, the Great Sultan Bunabart, came in the service of Allah & the Ottoman sultan to liberate Egypt from Mameluke rule. These bonkerz leaflets reached Cairo along with ominous news that a vast infidel army had taken Alexandria.

headlong across fields of clover. Today it is hard to imagine Imbaba–populated as dense as Manhattan five times over–carpeted with fields of clover. But even as recently as the films of Egypt’s silver screen, over the shoulder of row boat romeos on the Nile we would see Imbaba as a pastoral expanse. In fact Imbaba was not developed until after the 1967 war, and done so illegally. Technically Imbaba is still zoned as agricultural land; thus the government does not recognize the neighborhood; thus the neighborhood receives scant public resources/services. This neighborhood of several hundred thousand people does not appear on many official maps. In this setup, we begin to see the schism with the state and seeds of antagonism.

Needless to say, when Tristan finds out what the cops did in Imbaba he will not be pleased!

[On a completely different note…]

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One Response to “Cairo After Curfew”

  1. Alanis Marrakech Says:

    Thank goodness for that. Doesn’t an obelisk look so much nicer with a European background? Taketh my booty to Europe and surround it with drunk men who vomit and pee here and there from time to time.

    ……..

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