Cairenes impressed by 'Jasmine Revolution'

Dina Ezzat , Monday 17 Jan 2011

Four days after Ben Ali fled his country, unrest in Tunisia remains. Egyptians nevertheless say the story of the dictator's fall is a "fairy tale"

(Photo AP)

"Qaddafi must be afraid that his turn is coming next; this is the only way to explain his funny statements suggesting that the Tunisians should not have gotten rid of Ben Ali," said Samiya, a middle-aged housewife living in Cairo.

Samiya was referring to recent remarks made by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, who lamented the ousting of Tunisian President Zein El-Abdedine Ben Ali in the wake of the country's four-week-long public revolt.

Many like Samyia agree that Ben Ali received a deserved ending.

Rabab, a 28-year-old cashier at one of Egypt's supermarket chains, echoed Samiya's thoughts, saying that the toppled Tunisian president humiliated his people, and his people, says Rabab, "at some point" repaid him in like.

Of 15 Cairo residents – men and women of different backgrounds – who spoke to Ahram Online on Sunday afternoon, there was not a single individual who expressed sympathy for Ben Ali.

With no exception, all expressed much admiration for the Tunisian people, saying things like: "they showed they were much tougher than one would have taken them for"; "they are true men – they changed the corrupt regime of their country"; "they succeeded where many others have failed"; "they changed the regime by their own hands without having to get the Americans into their country as the Iraqis did."

A couple of the men interviewed by the paper went so far as to say they would not mind if Egypt was to lose a game to the Tunisian national football team, explaining that the Tunisians deserve a prize from all Arab people. "They did something that not many other Arabs could do," said Atef, who works at a fish restaurant.

Each of these 15 individuals said they use Qatari owned Al-Jazeera satellite channel as their main source of information, along with the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Meanwhile, three of the Ahram Online interviewees made unprompted references to Egyptian opposition figures Mohamed ElBradei and Ayman Nour. All references were negative, suggesting that neither ElBradei nor Nour were able to generate an ounce of the support that spontaneously emerged after the tragic incident in which a young Tunisian man set himself on fire in protest of poverty and unemployment.

"What happened in Tunis shows us that these people, ElBradei and Nour and so on, have very little influence on the street and maybe even little credibility among the people," said Emad, a pharmacist.

Ultimately, very few of the 15 individuals seemed to know much about Tunis other than the obvious fact that it is a "North African country," "that it receives a lot of tourists," that it "has a good football national team," and that its "people speak not just Arabic."

There was one question which not single one of those who spoke to Ahram Online agreed answer: Do you think that something similar could happen in Egypt? Those interviewed by phone were disturbed by the question and many ended the call abruptly.

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