The people wants… its chairs back!

On the way home tonight we saw a very small demo on Mohamed Sabri Abou Alam Street just off Talaat Harb Square.  Maybe fifty peaceful protesters, guarded by not very many red-bereted military police. They were chanting, among other things: “The people want the downfall of the Field Marshal.”  Really, at eleven o’clock on a Wednesday night, that’s what they want?
Apparently, according to some friends of my friend whom we ran into at the scene, the military had picked this fight. Military police had inexplicably arrived at the Borsa pedestrian area and started clearing chairs out of its open-air cafes, making some spurious argument about it being too crowded.  This despite the fact that the Borsa area has been pedestrian for years (it’s actually a really nice area), and also that the city is full of other spontaneous cafes and fruit stands etc. that really do tie up traffic and call out for enforcement.  As people are tweeting now (do I know these things?), there was also a soccer match on.  So the military successfully roused people who had wanted nothing more tonight than to drink their tea and watch their football, and got them to stand up and demonstrate.  Well, duh, when you take away their chairs.  (My friends said Borsa was the one part of the city where cafes had stayed open even during the revolution. As though nothing was happening.)
As we walked by Borsa on our way to Midan Falaki to catch me a cab we saw the cafes open again: sheesha, tea, plastic chairs and little tables in full swing. As though nothing had happened.
(Later, after we left, more military police would arrive; the lights would go out in Talaat Harb square; a few protesters would head to Tahrir. All this was after I was home in my pajamas.)
Update next morning: even sports talk shows on the radio are touching on the event: why close down these cafes in particular? Why in the middle of a match and not wait till it’s over? why not publicize the new “rules” about public chair-positioning in the newspapers and on TV, rather than leading with the enforcement?


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