Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sometimes Mobbed Streets Are Okay

BBC NEWS | Africa | Egypt rejoices at record Cup win

After a week of news scenes of protesters angry at the lack of discretion and consideration by European newspapers publishing cartoons of Mohamed, the mobs in Egypt were a delightful change. To be sure, I made certain to get out of Maadi and back to the relative quiet of the farm as soon as the game was over. The streets everywhere filled quickly.

I'm not a big football (soccer) fan, but we've watched every one of Egypt's games in this series with wonder and delight. Last night a group gathered for standard football food (homemade sandwiches, chicken wings, beer, and brownies) to cheer on Egypt to a longed for victory. I sent messages to my daughter's mobile phone in New York with updates of the game because she had to be at work cataloguing books in Columbia's Butler Library. Her brother, soaring along on a cloud of adrenalin-produced euphoria, suggested that she should have told her boss it was a national holiday...Egypt was in the finals of the Africa Cup. Hmmm. Boss wasn't going for it. So there were ecstatic messages and whoops of joy when the last kick slammed home to give Egypt the win.

As we drove back out of the city, we were getting phone calls from friends who were estimating that they were going to be stuck in other places for hours...but no one seemed to really care. In the village of Shubramant on the way home, farmers were drifting back to their homes having gathered in coffee shops to watch the match. During the game, there were almost no cars on the road and very, very few pedestrians. Virtually the entire country was glued to television sets to watch the match.

Congratulations Egypt! It was a great series...and now back to our regularly scheduled programming, but with a smile that will surely linger for a while.

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