Post-Jan25 in Minya

Since I am currently unemployed and wasting my time following the thousand or so tweets that appear every hour on my twitter account. I decided to spend time with my father getting paperwork related to several court cases done. These cases happen to be in Minya and they are related to few areas of land he refuses to give up.

The first post-Jan25 change noticeable is that in almost all villages you can see murals and graffiti honouring the martyrs and the youth of the revolution. The other thing, are the remains of illegal building on agricultural land, appearing as heap of broken down fresh white bricks in the middle of the green areas.

In the city of Minya, there are more visible signs of the state we are in. Empty hotels, intricate murals in English and Arabic about freedom, the martyrs and Egypt in all colours, army in front of government buildings, paid ads about the revolution asking people to say no to vandalism and one of the main squares in the city renamed from Midan Suzan Mubarak to Midan Shohada2(martyrs) 25 Jan. Probably renamed by the same governor who earlier renamed half of the city to Suzan Mubarak. Minya is the birthplace of the former first lady.

Otherwise, Minya didn't change much and what we've lived through in the past 3 months was mostly watched on TV. Except perhaps on the Jan 28th, I saw an armoured CSF vehicle with hundreds of tiny dents on it's body from stone throwing. Interestingly, the constant threat of thug attacks was very limited or unfelt.

What was more interesting is spending an afternoon discussing politics with people in the village of Rehana. Here is a quick summary in bullet points:

  1. Village men, some illiterate, understand politics more than people in Cairo expect them to be.
  2. Anyone affiliated to NDP and surprisingly the Muslim Brotherhood now have very little popularity.
  3. Sectarian 'competition' exists, is very deep and very strong. Everyone said Yes because Christians were saying No. I'm not sure that a unified building law will solve all sectarian issues. It's not outright hatred but it's not total tolerance either. This probably needs more discussions and a separate blog post on its own.
  4. ElBaradei smear campaign affected him widely, but it's very easy to ward off. Moussa isn't a very strong candidate as we might think. Some thought ElBastawisi's name is funny and isn't appropriate for president. Some older generation folk were excited about Nasser's son (or grandson) running for president.
  5. Youth are connected online via mobile phones. Twitter & Facebook is in the village. They don't have the time to check it every few minutes but they do every couple of days. There is an incredible divide between the language, connectivity and thought between the young generation and their parents. This is probably the reason why it's being called the 'Youth Revolution.' They really took the lead in everything, everywhere.
  6. Not much care being given about some mysterious conspiracy driving a wedge between people and the army creating chaos and the end of time. In fact things were clearer, they (again the folks I talked to over a cup of tea and peanuts) saw the army used violence and killed someone, some of them were conscripted and know the level of corruption in the army and they hate Tantawy. They think Tantawy failed and he was part of Mubarak's regime, he should go.
  7. One young man told me that they are very trusting of university graduates and all through the revolution they have been listening to them.
  8. Salafists exist and are more varied and different in their directions and flavours than I previously thought. They are the only organised political group with some trust at the moment. They aren't the NDP and they are not the MB. People are listening to them, cautiously. But there is space for others to talk.