Egyptian girls walk in front of the burt out former headquarters of Mubarak’s NDP Party in Central Cairo.
Back in Cairo! In order to get a press accreditation for a field visit with the Ministry of Water in the next days, we went to the Ministry of Information this evening, located in the same building as the (former?) Egyptian state television. The building straddles the east bank of the Nile, next to the burnt-out former party centre of Mubarak`s NDP in central Cairo.
In front of the building: tanks, soldiers with automatic weapons, barbed wire and an incredible traffic jam. Once we have managed to take the unavoidable hurdle of the inevitable collection of security men who busy themselves with smoking cigarettes, shouting in telephones and trying to look important, we walk up the stairs of the run-down media station/Ministry.
The atmosphere inside is still revolutionary and hectic, with old papers scattered on the floor, toilets that haven’t been cleaned for ages, smoking men everywhere, people running around, young soldiers hanging around and a soldier with a large caliber machine gun standing on the balcony, guarding the building. `Since the revolution started on January 25th, we have demonstrations here everyday,´ says Aziz Wael a journalist who just came back two days ago from Bengazi in Libya. `They come here because they want to be sure that the media see their protest.’
It’s understandable that the army is protecting the building: crime is on the rise in Egypt, since the hated police disappeared from public view. Outside, through the open windows, we hear an angry mob of demonstrators yelling their demands. This evening, two groups of demonstrators are mixing: personnel of the state television, who want their corrupt chiefs to leave, and policemen who request a salary rise. Why? ‘That´s logical’, explains Wael. ‘So far, they were used to being corrupt. That doesn’t work anymore in the new situation, they cannot bribe the people anymore, so they want an increase in salary. People hate them now, that’s why you don’t see many police around these days. But the Egyptians will find out again that we need them. Crime is on the rise, Egypt is becoming unsafe. We need a functioning police force for our democracy.’
Text: Jeroen Kuiper
Photo: Ronald de Hommel