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‘It’s as if the world was abandoning us’

Egyptian dervish wants to forget the sight of people leaving the country at Cairo airport.

Written by Premankur Biswas | Kolkata |
February 5, 2011 2:41:59 am

Waves of protesters shouting anti-Hosni Mubarak slogans — and firebombs — have taken over the Al Haram street outside his home in Cairo. But Amel El Tony,who has not spoken to his wife for a day,is not worried. “My family will stay indoors. They know better than to step out,” he says.

Away from the turmoil in his country,the Sufi dervish who is currently in India to participate in Sufi Sutra,a Sufi music festival here,adds,“I have faith in the Almighty. I can’t afford to get agitated. We are messengers of peace. We have to perform in his name.”

When Tony and his six troupe members took a flight from Cairo International Airport on February 2 — six days after the protests erupted — they witnessed a sight they wish to forget soon. “The airport was crowded with people from foreign consulates and tourists who were boarding special flights away from the country. It’s as if the world was abandoning us,” he says.

Being the only English-speaking member of the troupe comes with its own responsibility. Before he starts talking about his country,he has a quick discussion with the older members of the troupe,Mohammad Al Syed and Syed Faraqulli. “Things are pretty dismal back home. This uprising was waiting to happen for a long time. There are no jobs for youngsters,no opportunities. Obviously,they are very angry,” he says.

“People cannot go out on the roads after 8 pm; army men start harassing them. For the past few days we have been stuck in our homes without even daring to open our windows,” says Tony.

Yet,he and other troupe members say they would never have participated in the anti-Mubarak rallies. “We love Mubarak. He is like a father to us. I am sure he too realises that we need a change,” he says. “It’s the youngsters who are dissatisfied and are impatient for change. But we need a strong replacement,otherwise things will get worse.”

The youngest members of the troupe,Ali Taha (27) and Hassan Fayez (20),however,are not bothered. “They don’t care much. They are excited about being in the land of Shah Rukh Khan,” he says.

“You don’t know how lucky you are to be in a peaceful country. We hope peace prevails in our country too,” he sums up.

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