Egypt: Updates from the new revolution

Fine, I have my tickets. I’m leaving for Cairo on Saturday, and will blog on anything I see there. In the meantime:

Video from @Arabist.

At least 100,000 people are in Tahrir now. People report a jubilant mood, but there seem to be a lot of clashes between demonstrators and Central Security police east of the Square, around the American University of Cairo and Midan Falaki. @IaninEgypt: “Mohamed Mahmoud street looks apocalyptic. There are fires everywhere, sirens, smashing glass and gun shots.” My friend @LiamStack of the New York Times says that the Bab el-Louk souk, the old covered food market in Falaki across from the fabled Cafe Horeya, was set afire by tear gas canisters and has been burning.

In Suez, cradle of the Revolution, Al-Ahram reports swelling demonstrations in Arbaeen Square. The April 6 Youth Movement also says there are protests in a growing number of cities around the country, including ,Beni-Soueif, Al-Sharqiya, Al-Wadi Al-Gadid, and Qena.

My guess is that the story of SCAF handing power to the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court is just a rumor, based on the fact that the CJ is returning to Cairo from abroad — a sensible thing to do in a crisis like this under any circumstances.  However, Al-Ahram also gives this account of a meeting between a political front and the generals:

18:00 Political figures and representatives have finished their meeting with General Sami Anan, Army chief of Staff and member of the SCAF. Chairman of Al-Wasat Party, Abu El-Ela Mady, told Al Hayat TV channel that they reached the following:

– Holding presidential elections on 30 June 2012 while parliamentary elections will stay on schedule.

– Allowing freedom of protest and sit-ins.

– An immediate release of the detainees arrested since last Saturday.

– Forming a new “national salvation” unity government.

– The SCAF has no problem in having a referendum on whether the Army should return to their baracks or not.

Al-Jazeera has pretty much the same story, also from the Al-Wasat party.  (Al-Wasat is a Iiberal splinter from the Muslim Brotherhood.) I love that “has no problem,” though. You want us to leave? Hey, we’re cool with that!  Do you mind if we shoot a few of you first, though, man? Just for old time’s sake.

Liam’s take on this:  “SCAF & Muslim Brotherhood cut a deal for new ‘technocratic’ cabinet & power transfer in June, SCAF remains in executive role.”  Tantawi is apparently going to speak to the nation soon to announce this. “National salvation!”  The father provides for your future.

Will this pass muster with the crowd in Tahrir? Sample tweets:

@basemfathy: “ONE DEMAND from Egypt’s squares, #SCAF should hand the power now, This is non-negotiable.”

@TheBigPharaoh: “I don’t think #tahrir will accept SCAF’s concessions. Tahrir wants to do to SCAF what it did to Mubarak.”

@lilianwagdy: “the only response for any #tantawispeech for me would be my shoe thrown at his ugly face.”

If you haven’t been in Egypt lately, I can’t describe to you how deeply the revolutionaries feel about the uniqueness and precarious loveliness of the experience of both diversity and solidarity in Tahrir.  @omar_safa: “The beauty of #Tahrir : All segments of society, MB, Salafi, Liberal, Secular, Undecided, working together not as parties, but as #Egyptians.”  (If the Muslim Brotherhood have, as usual, sold out, you might subtract the MB from that list.) And @monasosh — Alaa Abd el Fattah‘s sister — tweets: “Nothing more beautiful than this”; and sends this picture, about half an hour ago: 

Now I have to go shopping. Some of my Egyptian friends, now in Tahrir, asked me to bring thong underwear.