Middle East Features
Egyptians uncertain about the future amidst chaos (News Feature)
By Yasmin El-Rifae Jan 29, 2011, 14:41 GMT
Cairo - The future remained unclear and insecure in Cairo on Saturday on the fourth day of dramatic anti-government demonstrations which have not been led by any particular political party, figure, or ideological vision for the future.
As protesters continued to clash with the few remaining police forces in some neighbourhoods, evidence of looting and burning of shops and cars could be seen across the city.
'I regret taking part in the start of all of this on Tuesday, this has turned completely unsafe and ugly,' Ahmed Seif, a 24-year-old engineer who took part in Tuesday's demonstrations told the German Press Agency dpa.
Men were seen on the streets with kalishnikov rifles and clubs in several neighbourhoods, witnesses told dpa.
Shooting could be heard on Friday night in several residential areas, where people on the streets said some residents had struggled to protect their buildings overnight.
In downtown Cairo, the sting and smell of tear gas still filled the air on Saturday. At least one gas station had been destroyed, and the streets were strewn with rubble.
Demonstrations across the country continued to grow through the afternoon, evidence that President Hosny Mubarak's decision to dissolve the cabinet and name a new one would not satisfy protesters.
Residents expressed concern over general security and the political future of the country.
'While I am happy that this is bringing an end to President Hosny Mubarak's regime, I am worried about the future,' Amani el-Sayed, a teacher, said. 'Who will lead this country?'
With the army declaring that it is on the streets to 'protect the people,' there were no reports of any clashes between the army and protesters, or any attempt by the military to restrict peoples' movements.
The quick momentum of the protests after they started on Tuesday apparently surprised not only the government, but also the opposition, local observers say.
No particular political leader or group had been behind the protests, and in fact severl opposition groups including the popular Muslim Brotherhood did not initially express support for the demonstrations.
By Saturday afternoon, a new curfew of 4 pm was being ignored by tens of thousands of people in Cairo, who were milling around military vehicles and chatting with soldiers.
Amid the uncertainty about how long the protests would continue, or how Mubarak will respond to the massive demonstrations, Egyptians were engaged in a basic right of democracy - arguing openly about the dramatic events in their country.
'Why are you supporting this unrest?' one man was heard in a shouting match with another on the metro. 'Do you want the Muslim Brotherhood to take over? Do you want to be ruled by a bunch of thugs?'
To which someone else nearby responded: 'It's Mubarak and his rule that have brought this about and made it inevitable.'
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