The view of Egypt's protests from the pyramids, with hardly a tourist in sight
Camel owners and others at Egypt's pyramids, where foreign tourists normally flock at this time of year, are surprisingly supportive of the protests.
In Pictures Tourist sites in Egypt
In Pictures Exclusive Monitor photos of Egypt's turmoil
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Tourist season has been shut down by the panicked flight of tens of thousands of tourists from the country since unprecedented democracy protests calling for the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak erupted on Jan. 25.
Egypt’s ongoing uprising has captivated a broad swath of Egyptians, and was given renewed vigor today by the release of young Google executive Wael Ghonim. But the view of the protests from Giza is a complex mixture of pride, fear of instability, and seemingly contradictory positions.
Take the group of men sitting in a largely deserted coffee shop across from the pyramids. Ali Ibrahim is the third generation in his family to peddle rides to tourists, and he frets that he’ll have to sell his camels Ali Baba and Mary in a few weeks because he won’t have the $10 a day it requires to feed them.
But he’s not angry at the protesters at all.
“This uprising was generated by the corruption in our society,” he says. “I have to pay bribes every day just so I can work. So I support the youths. They should stay in Tahrir Square until we’ve got our rights, [until we] get democracy. But I’m worried about some of the foreigners mixing in.”
A friend of his, who works as an informal guide to tourists and only wants to be called Mohamed, interrupts. “The corruption here is killing me; most of what I make goes to the police,” he says. “So good for the students. But I support Mubarak, too. He should be president forever. And now there are too many foreigners manipulating things at Tahrir – Iran, Libya, Israel all have a hand.”
NDP officials reportedly paid, recruited camel owners
State TV and government officials like new Vice President Omar Suleiman have been warning about foreign infiltrators at Tahrir for the past week. They suggest that Egypt’s democracy protests have been engineered by forces hostile to Egypt.