The man who wrote those words — the witty and courageous Egyptian blogger “Sandmonkey” — is currently in hiding in his native city of Cairo, moving from one friend’s apartment to another, as supporters of Hosni Mubarak pursue him and other democracy demonstrators.
I had been trying to reach “Sandmonkey” — who has written for Pajamas Media — ever since the demonstrations broke out, because I suspected he would be in the thick of things. But as most know, the Internet was cut in Egypt until Wednesday.
When I finally got through to him late Wednesday night Pacific time, I discovered that, boy, were my suppositions ever correct. “Sandmonkey” was indeed in the thick of things and his on-the-ground observations that I recorded in this Skype audio-only interview were in many ways surprising and contradicted what we are hearing in our media:
To download an MP3 of this interview to your PC, Click here to listen to this 20 mb file. For a 2.5 mb lo-res MP3, click here. For a streaming audio-only version of the interview click here (takes you away from this page).
Some of things that you will hear in more detail in the interview are reassuring, but others decidedly not. On the reassuring side, “Sandmonkey” says the the Muslim Brotherhood is not a heavy presence at the demonstrations and that for the last four years they have been in a weakened position in Egypt, the least powerful of five Islamic organizations (although the most violent). Also heartening is that he says that there are no leaders for the movement, not Mahmoud ElBaradei or anybody else. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t sound much like an Egyptian version of the Tea Party. Mubarak isn’t going away and it’s getting more bloodthirsty by the day. “Sandmonkey” sounded bleak. He said that only America can help at this point by fully backing the demonstrators against Mubarak. “Does America stand for its ideals or does it stand for its interests?” he asked. On that score, he doesn’t like Obama. But guess what? He liked George Bush! Have a listen. We’ll be back in contact with “Sandmonkey” soon.
UPDATE: After being horrified to learn ‘Sandmonkey’ was arrested after my interview…. and the hugely relieved to hear he was released (although cell phone confiscated and car destroyed), I tried to phone him again. Results here.