The news media show Egyptians divided into two groups: those opposed to President Hosni Mubarak and those who support him.
After many days of chaos, Mubarak yielded to all requests of Egyptian protesters, promising he will not run again for office and offering talks with his opponents. Ironically, his opponents, especially the Muslim Brotherhood and Muhammad El-Baradei (a Nobel laureate), refused the offer and called for a new massive wave of demonstrations after the Muslim noon prayer on Friday.
The anti-Mubarak forces are portrayed as being far larger than the pro-Mubarak forces.
As a follow-up to my Jan. 31 column, I would argue two facts. First, a third group of Egyptians is missing from the media coverage. It is by far the largest group. Second, the so-called “march of millions” in downtown Cairo does not necessarily represent the 80 million Egyptians. The media has shown demonstrations in Tahrir Square, but not in other cities in Egypt.
After the Internet came back on, I was able to talk with 53 people, in addition to many others on Facebook and Twitter.
There are Egyptians that are not represented at all in these demonstrations, and their voices are not heard in any media. I know Egyptians who live in Tahrir Square. One wrote me, saying, “demonstrations started off with a group of intellects, however, in the course of things other groups with other agendas have sneaked in. Without a doubt, the currently persistent protesters do not represent the 80 million Egyptians.”
In the third group of Egyptians is an educated, intellectual Egyptian lady. She wrote me identifying them as “those ones in their homes, who had legitimate demands as citizens without any hidden agendas and who have been happy with what has been offered by Mubarak in his speech.”
She added, “Those are the Egyptians who are now paying a very heavy price for ‘some’ protesters’ stubbornness; they are wise Egyptians and intellectual people who are not against a person but against a regime, they believe that Mubarak and his regime will be under close watch by the Egyptians and the whole world in the days to come, and they want to grant a chance to the new cabinet to show all Egyptians what they can do – in a few months Mubarak will be out anyway.”
The media has not shown this third group. All that we see on American television is chaos and violence.
My family lives a 20-minute drive from Tahrir Square. They live in reasonable peace and they would consider themselves among the third group.
Extended relatives of mine live in El-Rihab City, which is a 30-minute drive from Tahrir Square, and they do not even have curfew!
A friend of mine wrote me a lengthy email describing what he experienced first-hand in a pro-Mubarak demonstration.
He said: “We started in Mustafa Mahmoud Square (five minutes drive from Tahrir) with one thousand people, in few minutes there were with no exaggeration tens of thousands of people standing together with banners saying things like: Yes to stability, yes to Mubarak; give change a chance; we are sorry Mr. President; we accept dialogue, we trust you; no to El-Baradei, no to the Muslim Brotherhood (many banners like this one); we are the Egyptians, where is Al-Jazeera TV, let them come and see; no to corruption, no to vandalism; we got what we asked the president for, so why are people still in Tahrir? Who are they? What do they want?”
In the meantime, evangelical Christians called for three days of fasting and praying, seeking God to save the country. They recalled what Esther did in the Old Testament. By far the majority among Christians accepted with joy Mubarak’s speech, calling on the protesters to leave and seeking to begin the rebuilding of our country.
Ayman Ibrahim is a Christian from Egypt and a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary.