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Saturday, January 26, 2013

How Did You Celebrate the Holidays?

This has been a holiday weekend in Cairo.  Thursday, January 24th, was The Prophet's Birthday.  That is the English translation of "Moulid El Nabi."  This holiday presents a bit of a dilemma for many Egyptians since it is not considered proper to celebrate the birthday of The Prophet, but this is a national holiday with a long-standing cultural tradition.

No one would say, "happy prophet's birthday" but there is a lot of special candy sold for the occasion and, of course, all government and many businesses are closed.  You can read more about the holiday here, including this:
The Moulid festival spread throughout the Muslim world and is celebrated in many countries, however, some conservative sects consider it to be idolatrous.

Though Muslims in general are aware of Moulid not being a truly Islamic custom, it is still considered a happy occasion where families and friends spend time together and eat good food particularly "Halawet el-Moulid" special sweets offered during Moulid, "hummus" (chick peas) and most of all "Aroussa al Moulid" (candy doll) for the children.
We were given a box of the special candy.  Some are pure sugar, other pieces are like Turkish Delight and some a bit like peanut brittle.
EgyptCandy-1 EgyptCandy-5

The following day, Friday, January 25th, was the big holiday on everyone's mind.  Once know as "Police Day," this used to be a minor holiday.  But two years ago,  the Revolution began in Tahrir Square on this day.  So, now, it has begun to be celebrated as "Revolution Day."

There had been much rumor and anticipation that violence could erupt and major new demonstrations might take place.  All the people that we know planned to stay far away.  We stayed home and watched a bit on television and also monitored the Internet.

It was a rather quiet event.  There was a bit of rock-throwing and some protest but much of this was in other cities or near other prime political spots in Cairo, not Tahrir.

I took a few pictures from a local television station that was doing all-day live broadcasts of revolution events.  Here is a shot of the crowd in front of the Egyptian Museum.

Notice that people brought their children to the square.  For a good overall view of the crowd, go to this site.

And much of the coverage included "man in the street" interviews.

It got a bit wilder in the evening but was generally a peaceful crowd.  If you were following stories that appeared in international media, you probably heard about the deaths at Port Said.  These are more associated with a soccer riot than they are with government protest.

Before judging too harshly, keep in mind these three stories from Chicago which is on pace to top 700 homicides for this year.  If I were to be dropped into a random spot in a city, I wouldn't hesitate to choose Cairo over Chicago!

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