I’d watched the uprising in Tunisia with a sense of smug satisfaction. Not because I had any affinity to the hard-done-by Tunisians, but rather because it had been one of my holiday options that I’d decided against.
In the end I chose Egypt instead. So imagine my surprise when, after a day at the pool last week watching stereotypical towel battles between the Germans and the Russians (yes, they really do happen), I turned on Egyptian TV to discover running battles, tear gas and tanks a go-go.
It didn’t affect us where we were holed up by the Red Sea – and the staff there couldn’t have cared less. It was all non-committal shrugs and comments about the people up north.
Of course, something might have got lost in translation, but I doubt it.
The Egyptians where we were staying weren’t bothered or interested, which is a far cry from the reporting on CNN (which we resorted to after the BBC, internet and mobile comms were cut off) which was stating that mass unrest had broken out across the country.
Perhaps the Egyptian elite had the same view of CNN as I ended up with – Cretinous News Network, I called it – which is why they allowed it to continue broadcasting. It was all ‘may be’, ‘might be’ and ‘sorry, that was unconfirmed we shouldn’t have said it’.
If you ever want to keep in touch with the news, avoid CNN like the plague as it spouts opinions and hyperbole, not facts.
So what’ll happen now to those hard-working Egyptians with the lovely smiles? I have no idea and I certainly don’t trust the news networks to tell us anything near the truth.
Remember that they are selling – yes, selling – uprising, fear, widespread social unrest and riots to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Egyptians I talked to were simply selling scarves, papyrus and alabaster – oh, and glow-in-the-dark pyramids.
I sincerely hope that Egypt – and the tourism its people so desperately need – can survive these difficult times.
And that we, the ordinary people, will have the guts to keep going to one of the most beautiful places on the earth after our politicians have finished their dance with diplomacy.