I couldn’t stay away from the activism in Cairo for too long and on my second full day I went protest hopping. I started with Raba3a in Madinet Nasr, where the Muslim Brotherhood had been blocking off streets since the Friday before the ouster of Morsi. Now most my friends are liberals or otherwise anti-ikhwan (I’m not very sympathetic to the group either), and so they found it quite puzzling that I went, but since I like to watch, learn, and understand, such a visit was necessary. With another PhD student who is also visiting, I went “backstage” where the makeshift press center is situated, on stage (to take a photo of the crowd), and around the area of the protests to get a feel of attitudes and sentiments of the area. Despite reports of people acting in a violent, threatening manner toward non-group members, I did not have any bad experience, and I didn’t see any weapons except from sticks. The security was heavier than any Tahrir event I’ve attended previously – not only was my purse checked, but the women also gave me a full pat-down and were concerned about my lack of an Egyptian ID card. Frustration and the wish to get heard characterized the atmosphere, but it was all in all peaceful.
Next up was Etihadeya in Masr el gededa where a very different crowd and atmosphere awaited me. I went with a bunch of friends, and the whole area was filled with happy, beaming people and festivities, including fireworks, patriotic songs, and celebratory dance. It was understandably a much more lighthearted event, but although I do not mourn the absence of Morsi I could not help but feeling uncomfortable about celebrating the generals we only a year earlier had peppered with #NOSCAF tweets and other criticism. Time certainly changes a whole lot of things. I found myself disagreeing with both Brotherhood members and liberals, as these are precarious days for the people adopting a middle position (anti-Morsi, anti-coup).
So what do I wear to protests? I tend toward pants so that I’ll be able to run and stuff should things get more serious. I wear baggy, simple outfits that are both maximally comfortable and breathing as well as less attention grabbing than my day-to-day wear. Flats is a must, of course, and if one can do either without a bag or with a tiny cross-shoulder purse for necessities that is ideal. Below is my protest style.
Scarf: Indiska (Norway), neck scarf with tassels: H&M, tribal oversized asymmetric hem shirt: Boohoo, scrunched bottom harem pants: ASOS, bag: Gina Tricot (Norway), gladiator sandals: New Look, belt: ASOS.