Egypt is known for its legendary tourist offerings and fervent protests -- and how the latter really mucks up the former. Now, a group of pro-Morsi youth hopes to combine the two legendary Egyptian qualities into one with daily walking tours to the Rabaa sit-in at a square near Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adaweya mosque. The tours include “live interaction” with the tens of thousands of people engaged in a monthlong protest against the military ousting of President Mohammed Morsi straight from the heart of the conflict between security forces and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a well-shot video, the young team explains in fluent English that the tour’s premise is to dispel the lies it believes have been spread by the local media, which it says has depicted protesters as terrorists. “The Rabba Tour is an initiative by Egyptian youth who have been participating in the sit-in since its inception. We are witnessing the cooperative, peaceful and revolutionary spirit among the participants of different social strata. Therefore we’ve invited many people of different nationalities and political backgrounds to come and visit the sit-in in Rabba.”
Each visitor will receive “a presentation about the massacres that took place, a tour inside the sit-in and a live interaction with the protestors.” The volunteer group runs the free tours, available in Arabic and English, each night from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. from the Panorama Rabaa Tent on Youssef Abbas Street.
“Our goal is not to convince people to join us or to adopt our objectives; it’s just for people to know the truth and to respect our right of having a peaceful sit-in without being attacked,” the organizers wrote on their Facebook page, which has attracted more than 6,500 likes in its five days online. “Our slogan is: Heard enough, time to see.”
The young activists who oppose Egypt’s military coup say reports in the media of weapons, torture rooms, imprisoned opponents and illegal sexual relationships for money are false. They aim to debunk stereotypes of those on the Islamist side of Egyptian politics by inviting media, humanitarian workers and everyday tourists into their fold for a look around.
A spokesperson for the tours told International Business Times by email Wednesday that, so far, the main interest has been from international media. “We’ve had so many reporters from different European and American channels and newspapers,” the spokesperson said. “The goal of offering such a service is to prove to people how peaceful the sit-in is and to refute the lies spread about the sit-in across the local media … It’s all about seeing rather than hearing about us.”
Egypt has been rocked by occasionally deadly political unrest since July 3 when the military ousted Morsi, the nation’s first democratically elected leader. His supporters want nothing short of his reinstatement and insist that overthrowing him was a violation of democracy. The interim leaders, meanwhile, insist on moving forward with an army-drafted plan that provides for new elections in 2014. U.S. Senator John McCain, who is part of a team of international mediators in Cairo this week, told CBS News on Tuesday that the unrest could turn into “all-out bloodshed” in coming days if efforts to find a political solution fail.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...