Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No. 0973 People who are Unafraid of Tanks

No, its not Tianamen. It's not even Tahrir.
It's a remote Cairo suburb with families and lots and lots of children. And there is a brigade of around 6-10 tanks surrounding the small community. This was in the days just before Mubarak stepped down, when everywhere you looked in Cairo, you found tanks. And everywhere you looked, you'd find families stopping, putting their kids up and onto the tanks and into the arms of armed soldiers, and snapping a ton of photos.

Egyptians lining up with a soldier to get their photos taken
When the tanks first arrived they were a huge relief to the people, who felt that their country was slipping into a total state of anarchy and crime. For many Egyptians, the tanks meant stability. The tanks meant protection of their homes. The tanks meant a restoration of order and an end to bloodshed (not really true, as those who were attacked in Tahrir on Feb 2 while the military stood looking on can attest).

Personally, tanks scare me. A government led by military men scares me. Until I see civilian control  (and by that - I don't mean Mubarak military man "civilian" control, I mean actual clear signs of democratic transition), I will be uneasy and waiting for more change.

My 4 year old daughter was also afraid of the tanks, so we had a talk about this last week. Mind you, the tanks were better than a few weeks before when she had told my mother over Skype that the "Policemen with Knives were killing people" (she also was very excited about the "bad pres-dint Moobarak" flying away in his helicopter).

Many Egyptians believe once the head is cut, the snake will slither away. Mubarak gone, means the end of the regime. There are others who more wisely wait with bated breath. They, like myself, won't really rest until they get all their demands met.

But, meanwhile, a lot of folks are pretty comfortable with the ubiquitous presence of tanks. And their kids are becoming comfortable with them too.

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