Egypt’s Frustrated Young Dream Of Revolution
Egypt’s frustrated young wait for their lives to begin, and dream of revolution
In Cairo, as in places all over the country, all eyes are fixed on the drama that is unfolding in Tunisia. Jack Shenker travelled across Egypt and heard people increasingly asking: could it happen here, and if so, when?
Sunday 23 January 2011
News of the latest act of self-immolation in Egypt reached Waleed Shamad while he was sitting in the bourse, a dense warren of outdoor shisha cafes tucked away in the back alleys surrounding Cairo’s old stock exchange.
An unemployed man had set himself alight in the middle of a busy street – the 12th such incident last week. According to a TV newsreader, the man, 35, had moved to the capital in the hope of finding work and saving enough to buy a home and get married, but lack of job opportunities had driven him to despair. “That could be a description of any of us,” said Waleed, pulling his scarf tighter against the cold. “These human blazes are coming so fast, it’s hard to keep track.”
Cairo is a city built for sunny days and balmy nights; come winter the wind can lash with a ferocious bite. But that has not stopped Shamad and his friends gathering for their late-evening tea on the pavement to talk through the day’s gossip: the Friday sermons devoted to Islam’s disapproval of suicide, new government restrictions on buying bottled petrol, and, of course, all the latest from Tunis – where developments have kept the group glued to al-Jazeera TV for days.