The past few weeks in Egypt have been amazing. How many times can you be involved in a moment of nation building history? For us it is just this once however for the Tentmakers of Cairo it is the second time that events have played a major role in the lives of their businesses and their families.
June 30 2013 will be remembered in many ways by many people and will be called many things by many people; a coup, a popular uprising, a rebellion, a revolution, an overthrow and many more descriptions of the event. However what it seemed to be to us was a moment when a large majority of Egyptians, or at least of those who reside in Cairo, took to the streets to say enough is enough. Whether that be against a Feloul dictator or an Islamist one the Egyptian people seem to have had enough. Or have they? A bigger question I suppose than what this blog can address.
Many of the Tentmakers of Cairo took to streets along with millions of others in what became more like a festival than a protest or an overthrow. The streets literally buckled with the amounts of people forced into each and every one of them. To move was to take small steps either side of you in the hope that you would not fall to the ground. Although if you did you would be quickly helped to your feet by a smiling face almost inevitably chanting, in Arabic, “Go Out, Morsi!”.
There was Koshary, Fool, Corn and Shayee for sale, if you could get to it. Men, women, children and whole families filled the streets - Unfortunately for women it was not always safe and is something that will need to be sorted out quickly and decisively not only by the new government but also by the Egyptian people themselves. There was music and chanting, political speeches and circus acts, as many a young man climbed to the top of a light pole or street sign in order to proudly wave an Egyptian flag.
And once then President Morsi had been toppled - how this happened is also a longer debate and one of legal ramifications again much to big to go into on this simple blog – then the jets flooded the skies with red, white and black smoke billowing from them as they looped the loop and drew love hearts in the sky. Fireworks blasted into the air like it was… well by then it was the 4th of July and the party just kept on going.
The dangers that had previously been envisioned with going to Tharir Square on June 30 had gone; the civil war, riots and hostilities almost a non-event, at least that was true if you were on the anti-Morsi side. The Tentmakers of Cairo each night became braver and braver as they took their families down to the square and danced and took photographs of themselves in the street.
However the reality of the situation, much like that of the initial revolution on 25 January 2011, is that these events hurt Egypt, and the Tentmakers of Cairo, each and every time they happen. Once again tourists will be staying away from the markets and stalls that sell Tentmaker work. Tour buses booked to travel to Khan El Khalili have been canceled and already dwindling profits will be affected.
There is a long way to go until Egypt will become the democratically inclusive country it wants to be, open to all political views and persuasions including the now frowned upon Muslim Brotherhood. However a long time before this becomes a reality will be the return of tourism to Egypt. Although things may not be good now it is only a mater of months until we will see tourists once again populating the markets and streets and taking a look at the appliqued masterpieces of the Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah.