Egypt On Edge Awaiting Military's Next Move

Host Guy Raz talks to Tim Kaldas, a photographer on the ground in Cairo. Kaldas talks of wandering the streets of the city, where the police have withdrawn and the army has taken over. He says the next question is what the army will be asked to do: use force or try to maintain order without resorting to firepower.

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GUY RAZ, host:

Tim Kaldas, an Egyptian-American photographer, has been moving about the neighborhoods around Cairo today. We spoke with him just a short time ago.

Mr. TIM KALDAS (Photographer): The situation basically is very different from what we saw yesterday. Yesterday, we saw clashes with the police (unintelligible) tear gas, rubber bullets and batons come out. Whereas today, the military is taking control of the streets. The police have withdrawn officially.

RAZ: Tim, give me a sense of how people are responding to the army. I mean, is there a sense that the army is kind of a neutral arbiter here or is there a sense that the army could, at any moment, turn their guns on the protesters?

Mr. KALDAS: I think right now, people are still trying to gauge where the military stands. Because I was standing in front of the presidential palace earlier today to see what was going on there, and one old man with his wife was trying to walk by, and he was asking if it was OK. And the officer said no problem, and he extended his hand. And the elderly gentleman thought that he wanted his ID card, because that's what the police generally do. They put out their hand to ask people for ID - at random moments, for no particular reason. And so he started to go for his ID and the officer said: No, no, no, I'm just greeting you. I'm just saying hi.

RAZ: Mm-hmm.

Mr. KALDAS: And it's a very different dynamic that you're witnessing right now.

RAZ: When you walk around the city, are people in cafes and restaurants, are they watching Al Jazeera? Are they able to see images in other parts of the city?

Mr. KALDAS: Oh, absolutely. Al Jazeera has been on so many TV screens throughout the city. Even in the middle of the clashes yesterday, you know, we'd be there, there'd be tear gas thrown upon us. We'd have to recover somewhere from that. We, at times, would be led into random stores that would open their doors quickly to let us in, and then close them again to protect us from the clashes.

And on the screen would be Al Jazeera, and they'd be watching live the protest in various parts of the city, following what's going on - and really excited.

RAZ: What has struck you the most in the last day or so, something you've seen that you could not have imagined seeing in Egypt?

Mr. KALDAS: The thing that struck me perhaps the most - are just watching complete shedding of the political apathy that so many of us have observed - or thought we were observing in Cairo and Egypt for so long. I mean, for so long, I've had conversations with people who said, there's no way to do anything about it. We wish that this regime would go away. But I don't know what to do; what are we to do?

There's always the sense that, I am powerless as an individual. That sense is gone. They have decided that the mechanisms through which the police state were administered have to be destroyed and that they will take it upon themselves to do so.

RAZ: That's Tim Kaldas. He's an Egyptian-American photographer who's been moving around the city of Cairo today.

Tim, thank you.

Mr. KALDAS: Thank you. My pleasure.

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