Firstly, my thoughts and experiences I’ll be sharing in this blog will, at first, be chaotic. This is because I do not want to start regaling my thoughts and experiences from this moment, I want to mention items from the recent past as well as my current thought’s and experiences.
I’ve been increasingly interested in the affairs of others for about 10 years, this has taken the form of massive amounts of tangential Googling, and joining & conversing in various BB Forums. Hopefully this will become my permanent and frequently updated blog.
Anyhoo, this weekend I went on my first pro-democracy anti-regime demonstration outside the Egyptian Embassy in Paris. I had a great weekend and met a guy who I hope to know for a very long time, an Egyptian and long time resident of France, called Assa.
I met Assa outside the Egyptian Embassy in Paris last night, he was the sole protester (on hunger-strike no less) there when I arrived at ~ 18.00. I joined him. He offered me some of his blanket on the cold floor, and we chatted for quite a few hours in his broken English and my broken French, in between, we were harassed by Le Flic (the police) and questioned by the Egyptian Ambassadors’ son.
The police had demanded to see our permit de manifestation (sic) which we did not have and I did not even know in the land of “Liberté” we needed. Assa thinks my speaking only English to them, asking various legalistic questions, and asking for their names was the reason we were not actually arrested after the 5-minutes-to-leave-the-area threat had passed.
I left just before 23.00, saying I would meet up the next day.
Assa gave me a call at noon the next day saying that he had been arrested and detained at 02.00, released after a short time with the warning not to go back. We arranged to meet up at the demonstration at Couronnes Metro station that afternoon.
I arrived at Couronnes for the pro-democracy/anti-Egyptian regime rally just after 16.00 and eventually found Assa. It was good to see him again and we had another very nice chat. The atmosphere at the demonstration was fun and serious, an eclectic mix of young and old, Egyptian and solidarity-supporters.
Assa had a lively chat with a pro-Mubarak supporter who questions Assa on why he was on hunger strike, if was a respectful conversation from what I could gather (I do not speak Arabic).
A few things came out of this weekend; I feel even more solidarity with the pro-democracy supporters in Egypt (and indeed elsewhere); I met someone who I hope will become a great friend; I have a very large bunch of folk to get introduced to in Egypt when I take a vacation there (Assa’s large extended family); I need to learn more about Egyptian culture, specifically, how to pay for stuff without offending them by wanting to pay myself.