Egyptian Rioters Wary of U.S. JournalistsJanuary 31, 2011 - 10:45 AM | by: Greg Palkot
CAIRO, Egypt– We have now been in Cairo for 4 days. In that time we have seen and heard a subtle but real shift in the mood of protestors here.
On Friday, rioters had a clear-cut enemy: the hated police. We as Americans were seen as allies in the cause. They also begged us to relay to Washington and President Obama their wishes that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should leave.
Although the situation was dangerous on that day, with police clashing with rioters, we did not feel targeted.
On Saturday, the atmosphere changed. Activists had gained attention, won gains, but also suffered casualties.
While President Mubarak had made concessions he was still there. And while President Obama had supportive words for the protestors, he did not call for Mubarak go.
So America was then seen as part of the problem and it has been that way ever since.
U.S. aid to Egypt, both military and social, is seen as propping up the hated regime. The lack of a clear cut backing for the “street” is seen as Washington turning its back on the Egyptian people it has pledged to help.
As we interviewed people on the street, some were happy to get their opinions out to the international media, others wondered openly whether we were “spies,” “agents” of the regime, as well as acting in a hostile manner towards us. Some told others not to talk to us at all.
The widely-aired words from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday, which also tried to straddle a middle road, did not help matters.
By Monday, amid reports that the White House was looking for some sort of “transition” in Egypt, a moderating message seems to have gotten lost in the din of anti-government protest which is not dying down.
The U.S. will have to speak louder and act more strongly if it wants to get ahead of the throngs here rushing for democracy now.